Travel and Leisure

World Travel and Dental Emergencies

World travel is an exciting idea but what if you have a dental emergency while out of the country? Although nearly every part of the world can offer at least rudimentary dental care to travelers, in many locales the care offered is of questionable quality and cleanliness practices are far less than ideal.

Because few things can ruin a vacation like a throbbing toothache, you should take a few simple precautions before embarking on your trip. The most important precaution is a visit to your dentist for a thorough examination. Your dentist will be able to spot many potential problems – like cavities, loose crowns, or damaged dental appliance – and correct them before you begin your trip. If you do experience a toothache while traveling, there are several ways to reduce your discomfort until you are able to see a dentist. You may find relief by flossing or gently rinsing your mouth with warm salt water solution to remove irritating food particles or other debris from between your teeth. Over-the-counter pain remedies can also offer temporary relief from a toothache.

If you suffer a traumatic injury, a cold compress to the facial area will help reduce pain and swelling. To be on the safe side, you should always travel with a dental emergency kit. These prepackaged kits are basically first aid kits for your teeth that provide the supplies and tools needed to temporarily fix common dental emergencies, like toothaches, a lost fillings or crowns, chipped teeth, and the like. When shopping for a dental emergency kit, look for one that addresses the widest range of potential dental problems. Every dental emergency kit should contain, at the bare minimum, the following: Pain relief supplies including both pain tablets, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and topical anesthetic, such as oil of cloves or an over the counter antiseptic that contains benzocaine; Temporary filling material to replace lost fillings or crowns; Dental wax to protect the inside of your mouth from the sharp edge of a chipped tooth or damaged dental appliance; A syringe to irrigate and clean the damaged tooth; Prepackaged sterile applicators and rubber gloves; A dental mirror; A small sturdy container to protect a lost tooth, pieces of a broken tooth, a lost crown, and/or damaged dental appliance; And, last but not least, detailed instructions on the use of the various products in the kit.

If you have a problem with a dental appliance while traveling do not throw it away: A crown that comes out can probably be re-cemented by a dentist and a broken bridge or denture can usually be repaired. If you wear dentures you should consider taking a spare set on longer trips. As with all home remedies, a dental emergency kit is only intended to hold you over until you can see a dentist. Even if your dental problem seems to have been solved by a temporary fix, always see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent possible further damage and serious consequences.

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