December and January are popular times for travel, whether it is to celebrate holidays with family and friends, ski trips to snow-covered mountains or on getaway vacations to warmer climes. All of this travel takes us away from our dentists. We know that vacations don’t always mean a vacation from tooth issues. So, here are some suggestions for how to handle those out of town dental emergencies.
- If a permanent tooth gets knocked out, keep it moist. You may gently rinse the tooth to get debris off of it, but don’t pull at the root fibers. If you can, place the tooth back into the socket, but without touching the root. If you cannot safely do that, you may preserve the tooth in milk. Then get to a dentist immediately. Teeth reimplantation needs to take place within one hour in order to have the highest chance of success.
- If you crack a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water. Your face is likely to swell up. To keep the swelling down, keep cold compresses on your face. Arrange to see a dentist quickly.
- If you get a toothache, rinse out your mouth with warm water. Try to gently floss around the affected area to get rid of any food. Make arrangements to see a dentist, as toothaches usually indicate infections or abscesses.
- If you bite your lip or your tongue, just rinse your mouth out with water. Unless the bleeding doesn’t stop, which would indicate the need for stitches, the lip or tongue should quickly heal.
- Utilize the hotel concierge or your travel insurance provider to help you find dental care. If you are abroad, you may also contact the American embassy or consulate for suggestions. Before you leave town, your hometown dentist may have a colleague in your travel location, to which he or she can direct you in case there is a problem. This is a good idea if you will be gone for a long time, either for business or leisure, including college students who spend a semester or year abroad.
You can’t prevent every dental emergency, but you can take some common sense action to avoid problems when out of town.
- If you are going to participate in any sports, wear an appropriate mouth guard.
- If you have dental implants, crowns, bridges or orthodontia, this is the time to treat them with care. Avoid sticky foods, especially candy and absolutely avoid chewing on ice or popcorn kernels.
- If you are feeling any discomfort in your mouth, attend to it before you travel, so you don’t get yourself into an emergency situation.
- If you know you are going to be away for a long time, consider a dental check-up and cleaning prior to your trip.
- Be sure that you have all required immunizations and treatments if your destination requires them, particularly Hepatitis B.