How to deal with a dental emergency on vacation

toothache on vacation

Spring Break is here! If that means you’ll be hitting the beach, heading to the mountains, or traveling to your favorite vacation destination, you’ve probably gotten everything ready … or so you think. You’ve got your sunscreen, your toothbrush and your camera, but what else do you need? A plan for what to do if you have a dental emergency while on vacation.

Nobody wants to think about the possibility that their out-of-town fun could be derailed by a dental emergency, but it does happen! But when you’re hundreds of miles from our office, what should you do? Read on to find out.

If you get a toothache …

Nothing kills the vacation mood like a toothache! Even if the pain in your tooth isn’t severe, a toothache can indicate a serious underlying problem such as an abscess, which, left untreated, can become a serious danger to your health.

If you have a toothache that doesn’t go away with OTC pain relievers, you can visit an urgent care center or find an emergency dentist in the area where you’re traveling.

Interesting fact: if your feel slight pain in your tooth while you’re flying that goes away once you’ve landed, you may just be experiencing changes in altitude and air pressure when flying. This probably indicates that you have a cavity or crack in the tooth, but it’s probably not an emergency.

If you break a tooth …  

Heading to the mountains for climbing, hiking, or rafting? Be careful, or a broken tooth could be your prize. Besides being painful, a broken tooth can open your body up to infection, so it requires treatment right away.

If you find yourself with a broken tooth while on vacation, rinse your mouth and apply a cold compress to the injured area to reduce swelling, then head straight to an emergency room or emergency dentist.

If a tooth gets knocked out … 

Losing a tooth when you’re little means a prize from the tooth fairy. Losing a tooth when you’re older means a trip to the ER or emergency dentist.

If one of your teeth is knocked out while on vacation, rinse the tooth with water and try to place it back into the socket. If it fits easily and stays, you can leave the tooth there until you get to an emergency room or emergency dentist.

If you can’t get the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a glass of milk or keep it between your gum and cheek if milk is unavailable. Head to the emergency room or emergency dentist right away.

There is a good chance that the emergency dentist can save your tooth if you receive treatment within 30 minutes.

If you lose a filling … 

Losing a filling, luckily, is usually not an emergency that needs treatment right away. As long as you’re not in pain, you can usually wait until you return home to see your dentist. Keep the tooth as clean as possible in the meantime, using mouthwash as needed to flush debris and bacteria from your tooth and prevent infection.

If you lose a crown … 

If you lose a crown on vacation, as long as you’ve had a root canal, you should not feel any pain. You may be able to wait to receive treatment until you get home. In the meantime, you can either leave the crown off or use a dental adhesive to reattach the crown yourself. See your dentist as soon as possible when you get home.

Got questions about dental emergencies? 

Planning ahead can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with dental emergencies on vacation. If you’ve got any questions about what to do if you injure a tooth on vacation, give us a call today!