Dealing with Dental Emergencies on the Road
When you’re vacationing or traveling, the last thing you want to deal with is a dental problem. Unfortunately, it happens. Knowing what to do when an emergency strike is important to ensuring the best outcome.
Prevention is key. To decrease the risk of breaking a tooth or experiencing problems while on the road, practice good dental hygiene and habits. This means not chewing on hard things like ice, seed shells, pens and other non-food items. Don’t use your teeth as tools to open packaging, etc.
If you’re planning a trip, avoid scheduling major dental procedures in the month before departure. You want to give your mouth plenty of time to heal, while you follow through with aftercare and checkups. Plus, it’s important to stay close to your dentist in case there are complications following it.
If you do experience a dental emergency while far from home, here is some advice on how to handle the situation.
What’s the Problem?
A toothache can be a vague symptom. It’s not always clear right away what the underlying problem may be. Non-prescription pain medication can help reduce discomfort. If the pain is severe or persists for more than a day or two, you should request an emergency appointment with a dentist in the area. If you notice swelling around the gums or sensitivity to hot foods, this may be a sign of a more serious problem that requires urgent attention.
Chipped or Cracked Tooth
If a piece of your tooth falls or is knocked out of place, preserve it in a container of milk. Calcium in the milk will help keep the broken tooth healthy until a dentist can assess the situation. Rinse your mouth with water. Then, you should be seen by a dentist within an hour to ensure the best outcome for the damaged tooth.
This is not a good time to try your hand at a DIY project. If your dentures get damaged while you are traveling, contact a dentist in the area. You can request minor repairs or have a temporary denture formed. Then, when you return home, take the dentures to your regular dentist for repairs and adjustments. In the meantime, avoid foods that are hard or difficult to chew; this will help reduce unnecessary irritation of the oral tissues.
Check out these helpful tips for denture maintenance and care.
Lost Crown, Veneer or Filling
If a dental crown, veneer or filling comes loose while you are on vacation, there is a good temporary solution. You should be able to find temporary dental cement at a local pharmacy. This adhesive can be inserted into the filling cavity to protect the tooth until it can be repaired. Schedule an appointment as soon as possible upon returning.
It can also be used to hold a crown or veneer in place temporarily while you travel. If you are unable to adhere the crown or veneer to the tooth, keep it in a sealed container. When you get back to your regular dentist, he or she should be able to reattach it rather than replacing it.
If you develop an infection or an abscess on your trip, it should be treated promptly. If left untreated, the infection could become more serious, spread to other parts of the body and cause permanent damage to tissues inside the mouth. The problem should be assessed by a dentist and may require treatment. This usually includes a round of antibiotics and draining the abscess. In the meantime, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt water and treat pain with over-the-counter medication.
If you have bitten your lip or tongue, or otherwise have an open sore in your mouth, carefully clean the area with water and sterile gauze. Apply a cold compress to help reduce swelling. If bleeding persists, you may require stitches or further treatment. Refer to the local emergency clinic for assistance.
How Can I Find a Dentist While Traveling?
There are a few different ways that you can go about finding a reliable dentist if you experience an emergency far from home.
- Contact your dental discount plan provider or insurance company and ask for a network referral in the area.
- When traveling inside the United States, refer to professional associations to find certified dentists in the area. We recommend the ADA Find-A-Dentist tool.
- When traveling outside of the United States you can utilize an international professional directory. For example, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers helps tourists locate a dentist who can provide emergency treatment.
- Ask a trusted local contact for a referral.
Do You Have a Dental Emergency?
If you are experiencing pain or have an urgent dental problem, contact the Briglia Dental Group as soon as possible. We are happy to assist anyone in the Philadelphia and West Chester area, even if you are just passing through. Call our office to request an emergency appointment at (610) 692-4440.