Planning a vacation or trip to visit family during the holidays is exciting. You take time off from work and expect the time of your life either relaxing on the beach, adventures over-seas, or enjoying family time when the worst happens. You are sidelined with a dental emergency that ruins your vacation. What do you do?
Preventing A Dental Problem
First, an ounce of prevention can go a long way in preventing that unforeseen tooth-ache.
Don’t wait until it hurts. If you haven’t seen your dentist in the last six months, schedule a complete check up a month before you leave. This will give you enough time to correct any potential dental problems. Top Prevention Tips:
- Have your teeth cleaned, especially if you have gum disease.
- Have x-rays taken.
- Address any sensitivity you might have. A minor pain can evolve into a ragging tooth-ache if left untreated.
- Complete any root canals that are needed.
- Have all partially erupted wisdom teeth removed and any teeth that cannot be restored. Sure it has never bothered you in the past, but if it is going to hurt it will be likely in the middle of your trip.
- Poor fitting dentures should be relined to prevent rubbing on your gum tissue.
- Bring along a spare denture if you have one. You never know when you will lose a set and a spare could save your vacation.
- While on vacation, avoid chewing ice. You can’t even imagine the number of fractured teeth I treat do to ice chewing.
- Avoid any hard candy or very sticky candy; these tend to pull off existing crowns and fillings.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. That’s what scissors are for.
Even with sensible preparation, emergencies may take place when you’re away. Here is some advice on how to deal with common dental problems.
Make sure you pack a bottle of ibuprofen, (Advil), or acetaminophen, (Tylenol), just in case you do experience any dental discomfort and don’t have immediate access to emergency dental care.
If you do experience a toothache and can’t sleep, take some pain-killers and then keep your head above your heart. That means using two pillows or more. Lying down prone allows gravity to increase the pressure on the tooth nerve causing more throbbing and pain. A good way to battle a toothache is to alternate 600 mg. of Tylenol and 600 mg. of Advil every three to four hours. This regiment gives a deeper and more long lasting method of relief until you can receive professional help.
FOR A TOOTHACHE
- Clean your mouth by rinsing with warm water.
- Gently use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth.
- An abscessed tooth on your vacation is the ultimate toothache nightmare. An abscessed tooth is where the tooth nerve has completely died and extreme inflammation and pressure has built up inside the tooth. The infection in the middle of the tooth goes out the end of the root and into the jaw bone and surrounding facial tissues. The pain is usually intense and it hurts if a person leans forwards or tries to lie down. There is constant pain throbbing and radiating up towards the ear. The face becomes swollen and opening the mouth becomes difficult. You won’t be able to eat because the slightest biting pressure anywhere near the abscessed tooth will cause severe pain.
- Over-the-counter pain medications usually don’t provide much relief. This is where you must seek out professional help. If a dentist is not available, find a physician and try to get some prescription pain medications for the pain and antibiotics for the infection. If dental treatment is available, the treatment options are to have the tooth extracted or to begin root canal therapy.
FOR A BROKEN TOOTH
- Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area.
- Use cold compresses on the area to keep swelling down.
- Call a dentist immediately.
FOR A LOOSE CROWN OR BRIDGE
- Rinse out the lose crown or bridge and dry the inside.
- At the drug store get a temporary crown & bridge cement and place a small amount in the lose crown and carefully re-position it back over the dry tooth and hold it there with light pressure
- Carefully clean the excess cement around the tooth
FOR A BROKEN FILLING
Get some paraffin wax or temporary filling material from the drug store and dry the area where you lost the filling with cotton and place a small amount of the wax or temporary filling material into the space where the filling was and press it into place. Carefully bite your teeth together and remove the excess.
If this is your one big trip remember to Prevent first and always Prepare for the unexpected, you just might salvage your vacation.