How to Handle a Dental Emergency While Traveling.


    Posted by Dr. William Linger, DDS, MAGD

    dental emergency

    It’s that time of year:  You might pack up the family, hop in the car or on a plane, and head off to your faraway family and friends to celebrate the holidays. If you’re like most people, the only thoughts you have about your dental health involve not forgetting your toothbrush.

    Unfortunately, sometimes dental emergencies occur during a vacation. Do you know what to do if you wake up with a throbbing toothache or a lost filling when you’re many miles away from your dentist? Read on to find out how to handle a dental emergency while traveling.


    Lost Filling

    So you’ve chomped down on Aunt Bertha’s famous fruitcake and lost a filling in the process. Don’t panic! First, assess the damage. Does the tooth hurt? Does the hole left behind feel jagged? If it’s painful, swish your mouth out carefully with lukewarm water to remove any food debris. If it’s not, you can carefully and gently brush the area.

    Head to your nearest pharmacy and look for temporary dental filling material; it’s kept in the same aisle as the toothpaste. If you can, buy one that contains clove oil, because that will help the nerve of your tooth settle down and relieve some of the discomfort, if there is any.

    Follow the directions carefully. Keep in mind that it’s temporary: You need to come in to have it replaced promptly after you return to town!



    Have you ever woken up with a toothache? Many who have say that it’s a terrible feeling. It’s even worse when you’re far from home and you don’t have a dentist nearby! There are a few ways you can try to relieve the pain while you’re on your vacation.

    First, take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If you can take ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin are common brands, but the generic is just fine), that will help reduce the inflammation and pain. If not, acetaminophen (often sold as Tylenol) will work.

    Next, brush and floss well. Sometimes food will get under the gumline and cause a lot of irritation. If you’ve recently had popcorn, bread with poppy seeds, or anything else with tiny, hard pieces that might have gotten lodged under your gums, pay special attention while flossing.

    Finally, apply a warm or cold compress, depending on what feels better. Make sure it’s not too hot or too cold. Sipping hot tea or a cold drink might also help.


    Swollen Jaw

    If you end up with a swollen jaw that you suspect is coming from a tooth, this is not something to leave unchecked. Ask your local friends and family if they might be able to get you in to see their dentist or search online for an emergency dentist in the local area. Get yourself seen if at all possible because you might need an emergency procedure or an antibiotic.

    In the worst case, if you cannot find any dentist in the area to see you, you might have to go to an urgent care center or, as a last resort, the emergency room. While they won’t be able to treat the tooth, they can at least give you an antibiotic to control the infection if that’s the problem.

    No matter what type of dental emergency you have while traveling, be sure to call us to make an appointment as soon as you arrive home. Also, keep in mind that being up-to-date on your dental checkups can detect a problem before it becomes a painful emergency.

    Call today if you are due for a cleaning and checkup, and we’ll try to get you in before you leave on your vacation!

    Topics: Dentistry

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