Tips for looking after your oral health on long haul flights

Bad breath, “rough teeth” or bleeding gums after a long flight? Most people neglect their oral health during travel. Most times damage to teeth occurs after a long haul flight when stuck food particles and bacteria wreak havoc on teeth and gums.

Here are a few dental care tips to keep your teeth healthy while you’re busy jet setting.


Challenges to keeping teeth clean on planes

The biggest challenge for every long-distance flyer is not being able to follow a routine. People forget to brush and floss and even rinse their mouths regularly. This makes for the perfect recipe for the development of tooth decay and gum disease.

Here are some other issues flyers can face:

  • Calcification on teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • “Rough teeth” feeling
  • Bad breath

We get it, if you are stuck in the middle seat of Row 86 on the plane, going to the washroom to brush or rinse every time you eat something is not easy. But here are a few essential dental care tips that will help you step off a long-haul flight with a clean and fresh feeling mouth.


Tips for keeping your teeth clean on a long haul flight / long journey

Travel toothbrush – Keep a spare toothbrush in your carry-on or purse. One with a cap for the head is preferred.

Travel toothpaste – Travel-sized toothpaste tubes (less than 100 ml) are available at pharmacies everywhere. Keep one in a see-through bag and there will not be any trouble getting it through security (you might even get a thumbs-up from a fellow passenger).

Travel mouthwash – The same goes for travel mouthwash. Most popular mouthwashes are available in cabin-friendly bottle sizes. If you use a dentist-prescribed mouthwash that is unavailable in a small bottle, pour some into your own clear 100ml bottle.

Water bottles – The little bottles of water on flights are simply not enough to keep you adequately hydrated. Make sure to pick up a bigger bottle from the convenience stands once you pass through security. Plentiful liquids help rinse away leftover food debris and liquids that have coated your mouth.

Brush frequently – Set a timer on your phone or your watch to remind you to brush every 8 hours. If you are catching a long-haul flight, that might mean once before you board, once on the plane, and once after you land.


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Can I brush my teeth on a plane?

Of course! Depending on the length of your flight, you should definitely brush your teeth at least once, especially after a meal. Food debris and sugary foods are the primary causes of plaque build-up in your mouth. If you are flying frequently, it won’t be long before it leads to gingivitis (or periodontitis).

For even longer flights (think Canada to Singapore, Australia, or China), it’s advisable to brush twice on the plane.


What should you bring on an international flight?

Here’s a handy dandy dental care checklist for you. Tick these off and you are set for an enjoyable and stress-free flight.

  • Travel toothpaste
  • Travel toothbrush
  • Travel mouthwash
  • Dental floss
  • Any medication prescribed by your dentist
  • Clear plastic bag to store everything


Visit a Dawson Dental clinic near you before you jet off to your next destination. Some of the most common stories we hear from patients start with, “I traveled abroad with a mild toothache…”. This is of course never advisable and we strongly suggesting seeing a dentist if you have any concerns, especially if traveling abroad. This will save you from having to visit an unknown dentist in a foreign country.

Running a little late? Speak to a patient support representative to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.