Travel and Dental Emergencies
Travel—it’s something that’s on many people’s bucket list, so the last thing you want is for your trip to be marred by a dental emergency. It’s a good idea to plan a dental visit prior to your trip to be sure that there aren’t any problems that could flare up on you. If there are, schedule to get them fixed before you go.
Unfortunately, some dental emergencies can’t be predicted (hence the term emergency!) so here are some tips in case you’re traveling and the unexpected happens.
The most common emergencies involve food getting stuck or an infection in your tooth or gums. The second most common involve breaking your tooth, losing a filling or breaking your dental appliance.
Take your dentist’s business card or contact information with you. If you have a dental emergency, your regular dentist can often phone consult or web consult with you. You might be able to get a prescription to stabilize you until you’re back in town or a possible referral if your dentist knows someone in the area.
You may also want to assemble a dental travel kit that contains dental floss, temporary dental material, Oragel or Anbesol, cotton, gauze, and over-the-counter pain medications.
Dental floss is helpful when trying to remove food that’s stuck between teeth or in your gums.
Temporary dental material is available at most drugstores and can be used to fill the hole left when a filling is lost. In some cases, it can also be placed in a broken tooth. You should call your dentist as soon as possible though, because this is only a temporary solution.
Topical anesthetic medications like Oragel or Anbesol can be placed on sore areas in the mouth. Cold compresses may help with swelling. Over-the-counter pain medications can also be helpful.
For those with braces, sometimes a sharp wire will poke you. In that case place orthodontic wax, beeswax, or small pieces of cotton on the sharp part.
If you have a crown or cap that comes out, you can try a small amount of a paste toothpaste (or some of the dental temporary material if it is not too thick) to temporarily place the crown back on your tooth. You should see your dentist as soon as possible, as this is a temporary fix. (Note: Gel toothpaste doesn’t work. It needs to be a paste.)
If your tooth is knocked out: retrieve it (hold it by the part you normally see in your mouth, not by the root), gently rinse it with water and replace it in your mouth. Get to a dentist as soon as you can. The sooner the better! If you cannot put the tooth back, put it in milk and take it to the dentist.
Broken dental appliances are a bit trickier. There are repair kits available, but if you don’t line the pieces up correctly, you may make the problem worse.
We certainly hope that a dental emergency doesn’t happen while you’re traveling, but if it does, hopefully this information will help you to cope until you can see your dentist.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who is taking new patients at her office on the Lorain/Amherst, OH border. Call 440-960-1940 for an appointment.
1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053