When planning a trip abroad you might think about investing in medical insurance, but what about dental needs? The last thing on your mind when you are going on a trip is dental troubles. However, dental emergencies can happen at any time. Imagine what a damper a toothache can put on your fun holiday time or business trip. Here we look at how to handle a dental emergency with some tips to prepare for your trip from a dentist’s point of view.
What To Do For A Dental Emergency While Travelling
What you do is based on what type of dental emergency you experience. Here is a breakdown of the most common dental emergencies and the actions required:
First, we should mention it’s actually common to experience tooth pain on your flight. This is caused by air pressure imbalances. We don’t realize air can enter the tiny cracks in our teeth. Once up in the sky, that air expands when flying. Luckily, the pain should subside once you land. Just keep in mind this means you have a pre-existing problem your dentist should check once you get home.
If the pain doesn’t go away, or the pain happens when you arrive at your destination, it could be you have something lodged between your teeth. Try rinsing your mouth and flossing to see if this helps. If not, ongoing pain can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers, oral analgesics or clove oil. Be sure to set up an appointment with your dentist once you get home.
Broken Or Cracked Tooth
Whether you couldn’t resist that local candy specialty or you innocently bite down on something too hard, breaking or cracking a tooth requires immediate attention. First you can rinse your mouth out, then apply a cold compress on your cheek to help ease the pain from swelling. You’ll also have to find a dentist or visit the emergency department where you are to ensure proper treatment is provided.
If you have a tooth knocked out, you can actually help save the tooth if you act fast. Follow these steps:
- Find the tooth and pick it up, avoiding touching the root end
- Hold the tooth by the crown, and give it a gentle rinse in water, without scrubbing or touching the root end
- Place the tooth back in its socket, making sure it is in the proper position
- If you can’t replace the tooth, place it in milk until you can see the dentist
- Do not hold the tooth in water, or place it in a piece of cloth or napkin, as this will damage the tissue required to allow the tooth to heal once re-implanted
You have to act fast as the tooth will only survive about 60 minutes out of your mouth. Find an emergency dentist ASAP and they can then re-implant the tooth and splint it in place.
How To Find A Dentist Abroad
This can be difficult depending on where you are. It should be relatively easy to find a dentist in Europe, but other areas might treat dental issues in different ways. The best thing to do is to purchase dental insurance, as travel insurance providers will have a list of the dental services accepting coverage. They can tell you who to call. Hotels are often very helpful in finding medical and dental services for their guests. We advise our patients to research medical and dental services prior to leaving so they can find emergency treatment quickly when required.
How To Prepare For Travel
You can plan ahead for a dental emergency while travelling with these tips:
Have A Dental Checkup
Unless you very recently had a dental checkup, scheduling an appointment before you go helps identify possible issues. You can also let your dentist know where you’re going so they can offer advice. This takes a proactive approach to avoid issues, such as pain when flying. As well, they can provide treatment for things such as cavities before you go.
Avoid Major Dental Work Prior To Travel
Never book major dental work such as an extraction or root canal too close to travel plans. This avoids the risk of emergencies related to the treatment such as infection. You also want to avoid related pain when flying, as well as being uncomfortable during the usual healing process for more complicated treatments.
Get Travel Insurance
Dental care is expensive and can be an unexpected cost you can’t afford, so get travel insurance that includes dental. Some benefits plans through your work include dental coverage when travelling, so speak to your HR department to see if your benefits include additional travel protection.
Pack A Dental Kit
Make sure you have all your dental hygiene tools packed, including plenty of floss, toothpaste and a spare toothbrush or two. As well, a dental emergency kit can provide comfort should you experience issues such as a toothache or a cracked tooth. Your emergency dental kit should include:
- Oral Analgesic Gel
- Clove oil
- Dental floss
- Temporary cavity fillings
- Pain relief medication
Watch What You Eat
You can also reduce the risk of a dental emergency by avoiding things like hard candy and other foods that increase the risk for cracks, chips, or lost cavities. Also, things like acidic beverages can aggravate sensitivity. Don’t chomp on ice in drinks (in some countries you should avoid ice altogether due to the risk of stomach illness) as this can lead to cracks and chips.
These tips will help you manage any dental emergency you may experience while travelling. Most people don’t think of the possibility of having a dental emergency while travelling, but there are things you can do to plan ahead. You don’t want a dental emergency to ruin your fun and interfere with your travel plans.
By scheduling an appointment with your dentist before you go you can identify potential issues, ask for advice, and receive basic treatment for things such as cavities. However, as always, prevention is your best defense against tooth pain.