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How to Handle a Dental Emergency While on Vacation

Do you have plans to travel this December? Many people trek across the country or even to other parts of the world to celebrate the holiday season. Something that you probably don’t want to deal with is a dental emergency while traveling. Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time. Here are some tips on managing a toothache, broken filling, or swelling while you are away from home (and from your dentist).

You Wake Up With a Toothache

First, don’t panic. Try to floss around the area; sometimes a popcorn kernel or some other type of food debris gets caught up under the gum and can cause a toothache. Next, swish with warm salt water.

If the tooth is still throbbing, take the over-the-counter pain reliever of your choice; for many people, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) works best. If you can’t take that safely, take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Follow the directions on the bottle.

No relief? In this case, you might want to find a local dentist to take a look. You don’t want your vacation ruined by a toothache, so ask your relatives or friends if they have someone to recommend. Your dental insurance company might be able to help, too.

You Break a Filling

If you crunch down on a hard piece of food and you crack a filling or a filling falls out, it might not be an emergency. Clean out the tooth and evaluate the situation. Are any pieces moving and pinching your gums? Are you in pain? (If so, follow the advice above.) If the answer to both of these is no, you’ll want to head to the dental aisle of your nearest pharmacy and pick up temporary filling material. Use it as directed and make an appointment to be seen once you get home. Keep in mind that the filling material is temporary; it won’t last longer than a few days and might need to be replaced if you’ll be gone longer than that.

Your Jaw Is Swollen

A swollen jaw caused by a dental abscess can turn bad very quickly, particularly if it’s accompanied by a fever or a flu-like feeling. In this case, you need to be seen. See if there is a dentist available. If not, try a walk-in clinic or urgent care. As a last resort, go to the emergency room. In this situation, it’s likely that you’ll need an antibiotic to prevent the prescription from spreading, so don’t wait.

If you have any type of dental emergency while traveling, call our office and make an appointment to be seen as soon as feasible after you return. Don’t let a temporary solution turn into a permanent one; any toothache that’s not remedied by flossing, a broken filling, or a dental infection needs to be addressed.