Different to my other posts, this is a little more personal. I have been asked quite a few times, how I found travelling with braces. I have been abroad a few times at different stages of my dental work and each has been slightly different to the last. So! I decided to do a quick post with little bits of advice.
I had my braces tightened before I went away and once I got back home. Whilst I was abroad, I did not have any work done. These tips are for someone travelling for up to a month in between orthodontic apps. This is not a post about maintaining treatment whilst abroad.
One thing I didn’t expect, was for my mouth to swell up during long-haul flights! (Does this happen to everyone or was it just me?) Half way through the flight, I started to feel this really bizarre pressure between my gums and teeth. It wasn’t painful exactly, but it made my flight pretty miserable.
Luckily I had some ibuprofen in my hand luggage so i took a couple of them. After a while it did calm down, but by this point my mouth had already swollen enough to be noticeable. The swelling actually took around 4 days to go down, even with me taking anti inflammatory tablets.
I now take ibuprofen before flying and I haven’t had a repeat of that first flight. Bizarre!
Double jaw surgery
For a bit of background, I am currently wearing braces to align my teeth / jaw ready for double jaw surgery in 2020.
My first experience travelling with braces, I had an overbite which was made bigger by my braces. It got to the point where chewing was almost impossible, as I could not put my teeth together. It was rubbish watching Martyn eating amazing Asian food whilst I was having fried rice every other day.
My second experience of travelling with braces was completely different to the second, as I was at a different phase of treatment. My teeth are now aligned much better and I am able to eat almost all foods.
Afraid at first, I thought that the braces were making me very “toothy”. I would not smile when possible and would stick to getting the most dull, boring colours on my elastic bands. I used to think that grey bands would hide the fact that I was wearing braces. In reality, the fact you are wearing train tracks is absolutely obvious and it is pointless in trying to shy away from that.
Once I realised that this was me for the next 3 years, I embraced it and started experimenting with bright new colours and having a bit of fun. You know what? I love wearing them now and my time wearing braces has flew past. At the time of writing this (Nov 2019) I have less than a year left wearing them!
Knife and fork
It may sound silly, but at first I took my own travel utensils with me in my day bag. These were helpful when I couldn’t eat my food with a spoon. I found that this problem usually happened in smaller street stalls where they only provided forks and spoons.
Things I would usually hoover down in one go, now needed chopping up into smaller, more manageable bites. Noodles where my nemesis. I physically couldn’t chew them so I would just choke – but not when I cut them super small with my knife!
If you are going through a similar phase with your braces making it hard for you to eat, I found the following foods easiest to eat:
Thai green/red curry
NOTE! Curries tend to stain my clear elastic bands bright yellow. I still ordered curries a couple of times because I can’t control myself around tasty food! But always kicked myself the following day.
I am no longer in that awkward eating stage so no longer need to take the utensils. My only issue with eating abroad now is the same as back home. Getting food stuck EVERYWHERE in my brace.
If you have braces, you probably have some of these already (and if you don’t – seriously go and grab some now!). These little interdental tooth brushes are a game changer. Taking a few packets of these on your travels will make your life so much easier. Simply pop to the bathroom after your meal and re appear with glowing food-free teeth! The brushes come in various sizes, so you will have to find the ones that are best for you.
Having this in my day bag helped with paranoia. There was a few times where I would be smiling for a photograph on a day trip. When I looked back at the photographs all I could see was a big bit of something stuck in the corner of my front teeth. Martyn is absolutely rubbish at noticing these bits but once I knew they were there I would freak out. How long has that been there? Have I spoken to anyone? Did they notice I had shit stuck in my teeth? Having a small cosmetic mirror to whip out after a snack was great – and if anything was stuck I can sort it out in 2 seconds.
Having braces at first was hard – but I think that was down to my overbite stopping me from chewing properly.
Since the braces fixed my tooth alignment, I am now able to eat almost any food I want. Travelling Indonesia with braces was amazing, and it did not stop me in anyway at all. In fact, they opened the way to amazing conversations with fellow brace wearing travellers as they would ask how you’re finding it!