Dental Emergency While Traveling: What to Do?
You’ve packed your bags, traveled to your destination, and are ready to embark on adventure until the unthinkable happens; you have a dental emergency.
As with all things, a pinch of preparation will save you a ton of trouble, so before you book your flight and dust off your suitcase, a dental check-up is in order. Regular dental visits, booked at least every six months, can identify any oral health concerns before they become a painful and potentially expensive procedure. When booking travel, make sure to schedule a visit to your dentist at least two weeks prior to your departure. Same goes for any children traveling with you. While there, consult your dentist about any recommendations they might have for you and your family while traveling.
Even the most prepared people occasionally have emergencies. A quick checklist can help you plan for the unexpected.
- Check with your dental plan to find local, participating dental providers in the area to which you are traveling. Save a copy of this list on your smart phone or keep a hard copy with your travel documents.
- Pack the essentials. Toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, mouthwash, over-the-counter painkillers, dental wax, and clove oil are must-have toiletry items. If traveling to certain countries, consider discussing the Hepatitis B vaccination series with your doctor. (This particular series is administered over a six-month period, so plan ahead.)
- Know your dental plan. If staying state-side, familiarize yourself with your dental plan’s out-of-network benefits. If traveling out of the country, consider purchasing additional dental insurance as many traditional dental policies do not cover providers overseas.
- Make a phone chain. As simple as it sounds, having a ready-to go list of providers, phone numbers, and contacts can save you a lot of time and headaches in an emergency. Make sure to include the hotel concierge’s phone number and contact information for you and your child’s respective dental providers (orthodontists as well in case of a hardware hardship). Be sure to include the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) on your list. This organization keeps a network of doctors and medical institutions around the world at your fingertips. Visit them at www.iamat.org
- When traveling abroad, make sure you have the phone number for the American Embassy in the country you are visiting.
- If your travel plans include Europe, the American Dental Society of Europe (ADSE) can be found online at www.adse.co.uk
In a pinch, these tips can help until you can find a local dental provider.
Knocked out adult tooth: Keep the tooth moist at all times. If possible, attempt to place the tooth back in the socket without touching the root or removing any attached tissue fragments. If that is impossible, the American Dental Association recommends putting the tooth in a cup of milk and getting to a dentist as soon as possible. Keep in mind, the highest success rate of reimplantation occurs within one hour of the incident that dislodges the tooth.
Toothache: Rinse the mouth with warm water to clear any debris around the affected area. Gently floss between the teeth to remove any trapped food. NEVER apply Aspirin or any other painkillers against the tooth or gums as they may burn the gum tissue, worsening the issue. Clove oil can be used for teething children or for a toothache. Apply a dab with a cotton swab to the affected area for temporary relief. Clove oil can be found in most pharmacies for a very reasonable fee. If the pain persists, contact a local dentist for assistance.
Cracked or Broken Tooth: Immediately rinse the mouth with warm water, then apply cold compress to reduce the swelling and go to the nearest dentist or emergency room.
Broken braces and wires: Sometimes orthodontic wires can break and poke your child’s mouth. Keeping dental wax on hand will help to reduce the risk of further injury. NEVER cut the broken wire as it can be swallowed and/or inhaled causing a far worse emergency. Instead, guide the broken wire back into place or out of the area of irritation with a pencil eraser. Once placed, cover the broken end with dental wax until you can be seen by an orthodontist.
Before you bid bon voyage, book an appointment with Anderson and Atkins to ensure your teeth are ready to hit the road. Call us today at (979) 846-1813 and one of our staff members will help you schedule your pre-travel visit.