Maintaining Oral Health While Camping
By: Rachel Summers
Aaahhhh…. Summer is here! FINALLY!!! School is out, the days are long, the temperatures are warm, and it’s time for all that Summertime FUN! Road trips, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and camping. How can you make sure your family doesn’t neglect their oral hygiene while doing all these recreational activities in the outdoors? Here are five ways to ensure everyone’s choppers and gums stay healthy while away from the comforts of home:
1. Talk to your kids about it
Just because you packed your kid’s toothbrush in their backpack, doesn’t automatically mean they’ll use it. Have a talk with your kids about how important oral hygiene is, and how fast bacteria can do damage, if they let their good home care habits fall by the wayside when they’re camping with their friends.
If you’re all camping together as a family, be sure to set a good example each day by taking 2 minutes in the morning and at night to brush your teeth. Heck! If you want to stand around in a circle brushing together, please definitely take a picture and post it to our Facebook page. We would love to see that!!
2. Be sure to pack all the necessary supplies for oral hygiene success
- Toothbrush case or brush head cover
- Toothpaste – small tube, or you can easily make your own dehydrated toothpaste dots. There’s a great recipe here.
- Pre-pasted brushes come in very handy
- Dental Floss
- Plastic Ziploc bags
WARNING: Bears are attracted to mint. So keep your toothpaste in a sealed plastic bag, and keep it with the rest of your food supplies.
3. Make sure to have bottled water on hand
You may end up some place where you do not have access to clean water. Make sure you keep enough bottled water on hand for brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth.
REMEMBER: Animals are attracted to mint, and toothpaste can make animals sick. Do not spit toothpaste or mouthwash on the ground. You can spit it in a cup or plastic bag to rinse later or throw away in a safe area. Keep this with the rest of your food supplies so animals will not be drawn to your tent.
4. Never pass up the opportunity to use the restroom
If you’re camping at camp grounds with restrooms, or if you stop at a rest area, take the opportunity to brush your teeth, in addition to using the toilets.
This is also a more familiar environment for kids to brush, and you may get better cooperation than with brushing outside.
5. Keep some Xylitol Gum on hand
As a backup plan for when you’re in a place where it is just not possible to brush for whatever reason, Xylitol gum can be a suitable alternative.
Camping often means that you and your kids are snacking more, and drinking sugary energy drinks or juices. Chewing on a piece of Xylitol gum during the day between morning and evening brushings, can reduce bacteria and damage from the increased sugar intake.
IMPORTANT: Animals are attracted to gum, and chewing gum can be very harmful to animals. Gum should be kept with your other food supplies, just like your toothpaste, and should never be spat on the ground. Dispose of your gum properly to prevent animals being drawn to your campsite, and to prevent animals eating it.
Keeping your oral hygiene habits in place while you’re camping isn’t too difficult. Honestly, the hardest part is remembering to do it while you’re having all that fun! And, your fellow campers in your tent probably appreciate it a lot too!