How to handle a dental emergency while on vacation

Before we dive into this matter we want to take a side note and talk about preparation. Yes, prepare your dental health for a fun filled, tooth ache free vacation. Preparation is key and will make the biggest difference of all, because if you maintain a good dental health by periodically visiting your dentist and make sure to have a check up before going on vacation, the chances of a dental emergency lower significantly.

That said, it’s important that you prepare, as best you can, for every possible situation while traveling. Dealing with a toothache abroad, however, can be a bit challenging. What exactly counts as a dental emergency? When do you need to call a dentist, and which office should you visit? Here’s what you need to do if you have a dental emergency while traveling.

First response to a dental emergency

No matter how prepared a traveler is, no one can plan for dental emergencies. All you can do is research ahead of your trip and know how you should respond to an emergency. In addition to finding a local dentist, you should take the following actions to address an immediate emergency.

If you have toothache

If you’re flying, you’re likely to experience some tooth pain because of air pressure imbalances. This occurs when air enters your teeth through a crack, cavity, or space in your filling, and then it expands because of the pressure changes while flying. This type of toothache is common, but it should go away when you land and only affect pre-existing problems.

If you have a toothache while flying and it doesn’t go away when you land, rinse your mouth and use floss to dislodge anything that might be stuck in your teeth. You can take painkillers to help with the pain. However, if the ache lingers and you can’t wait for a fix until you return home, you may need to see a dentist.

Broken or chipped tooth

Breaking or cracking a tooth is a dental emergency that requires attention instantly. Rinse your mouth and apply a cold compress on the outside of your cheek to prevent swelling. Then, find a dentist or emergency care center nearby and get there as soon as possible.

Dislodged tooth

If an emergency knocks a tooth out entirely, follow these steps:

  • Hold the tooth by the crown.
  • Rinse the root if it’s dirty, but don’t touch the tissue fragments or place it in a cloth.
  • Hold the tooth in the socket, if possible, or transport the tooth in a cup of milk and go see a dentist immediately.

Finding a dentist when you are on vacation

No matter where in the world you are travelling you can always perform an online search and find a dentist or emergency room nearby. Make sure to contact a certified dentist. Countries in Europe have similar dental standards and capabilities as the U.S. and Canada, so you should have no problem finding a dentist who can treat you.

If you picked up travel insurance, your first step should be to call your provider and ask for a referral to a nearby dentist who will accept your coverage. You can also speak with the hotel concierge, call your country’s Embassy or Consulate, or research the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers for recommendations on the closest dentist who can treat your emergency.

It pays to be prepared

As we stated in the beginning of this article the best advise for avoiding a dental emergency is to be prepared. Here’s a few precautions you can take before to set foot on that plane!

  • Visit us for a checkup: visiting your dentist periodically and making sure you have a checkup before leaving will take care of any pressing issues and minimize the chances of an emergency.
  • Think about getting dental insurance: Many insurance policies don’t provide coverage overseas. An additional temporary dental plan may be needed to protect you while traveling.
  • Prepare before travelling: Travel with all you need to practice good oral health while you’re away from your dentist. If you’ve been struggling with pain, in addition to seeing your dentist before you leave, travel with over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Also travel with plenty of toiletries, including toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, and mouthwash, to care for your mouth while you travel.
  • Mind your diet: You can decrease your likelihood of an emergency by minding your oral habits overseas. For example, you should avoid chewing on hard candies and similar foods that could cause a crack or chip. If you’ve been dealing with sensitivity, abstain from coffee, tea, and other acidic beverages while traveling to avoid aggravating the problem and needing to visit a dentist abroad.

A dental emergency can be a very scary and unpleasant experience — especially while traveling. But with some planning and information, you can care for your teeth before you leave. Schedule a checkup before you go on that trip and ask your dentist about other oral health tips to follow on your adventures!