Avoid the ouch! Great dental travel tips
Planning a vacation is exciting. You’ve taken the time off from work and have been anticipating the time of your life relaxing on the beach or an adventure overseas… when the worst happens. You are sidelined with a dental emergency that ruins your vacation. What do you do?
An ounce of prevention can go a long way toward preventing that unforeseen toothache. Don’t wait until it hurts. If you haven’t seen your dentist in the last six months, schedule a complete check up one month before you leave. This will give you enough time to correct any potential dental problems. Here are some other basic tips to remember:
- Have your teeth cleaned, especially if you have gum disease
- Have x-rays taken
- Address any sensitivity you may be having. A minor pain can evolve into a raging toothache if left untreated
- Complete any root canals that are needed
- Have all partially erupted wisdom teeth removed and any teeth that cannot be restored. (Sure it has never bothered you in the past, but if it is going to hurt it will be likely in the middle of your trip!)
- Poor-fitting dentures should be relined to prevent rubbing on your gum tissue
- Bring along a spare denture if you have one. You never know when you will lose a set and a spare could save your whole vacation
- While on vacation, avoid chewing ice. You can’t even imagine the number of fractured teeth I treat due to ice-chewing.
- Avoid any hard candy or very sticky candy; these tend to pull off existing crowns and fillings
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. That’s what scissors are for.
When Emergencies Do Happen
Even with sensible preparation, emergencies may take place while you’re away, so make sure you pack a bottle of ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol), just in case you experience any dental discomfort and don’t have immediate access to emergency dental care. A good way to battle a toothache is to alternate 600 mg. of Tylenol and 600 mg. of Advil every three to four hours. This regiment gives a deeper and longer-lasting method of relief until you can receive professional help. Here are some other practical ways to treat common dental problems:
Tips for dealing with a toothache
Clean your mouth by rinsing with warm water then gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth
An abscessed tooth on your vacation would be the ultimate toothache nightmare. This happens when a tooth nerve has completely died resulting in an extreme inflammation and pressure build up inside the tooth. The infection in the middle of the tooth goes out the end of the root and into the jawbone and surrounding facial tissues. The pain is usually intense and it hurts if a person leans forward or tries to lie down. There is constant throbbing pain that radiates up toward the ear. The face becomes swollen and opening the mouth becomes difficult. An abscess prohibits you from eating because even the slightest pressure anywhere near the abscessed tooth will cause severe pain. Over-the-counter pain medications usually don’t provide much relief. This is where you must seek professional help. If a dentist is not available, find a physician and try to get some prescription pain medications and antibiotics for the infection. If dental treatment is available, the treatment options are to have the tooth extracted or to begin root canal therapy.
If you experience a toothache and can’t sleep, take some painkillers and keep your head elevated above your heart. By sleeping with at least two pillows you may avoid additional pain. Lying down allows gravity to increase the pressure on the tooth nerve causing more throbbing and pain.
For a broken tooth
Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use cold compresses on the area to keep swelling down. Call a dentist immediately.
For a loose crown or bridge
Rinse out the loose crown or bridge and dry the inside. Get a temporary crown & bridge cement from the drug store. Place a small amount in the loose crown and carefully reposition it back over the dry tooth. Hold it there with light pressure then carefully clean off the excess cement from around the tooth.
For a broken filling
Get some paraffin wax or temporary filling material from the drug store and dry the area where you lost the filling with cotton. Place a small amount of the wax or temporary filling material into the space where the filling was and press it into place. Carefully bite your teeth together then remove the excess.
Planning the trip of a lifetime? Remember this: Prevent first and Prepare for the unexpected. You just might salvage your vacation. Call us before you go!