Dental Emergency when travelling abroad

Recognising dental issues and acting accordingly can actually save damaged teeth, not to mention helping to avoid a lot of unnecessary pain. Although it might be inconvenient whilst traveling, taking the time to identify and resolve any dental problems you might have is the only sensible course of action, otherwise you risk serious and permanent consequences that can definitely end your trip early.

What causes dental emergencies?

Your teeth and gums are incredibly sensitive and can react strongly to unusual and unexpected temperatures and ingredients. Whilst burnt or aggravated gums can cause teeth to ache, it is always worth checking to see if there are any visible signs of irritation. Rinse your mouth with warm water before using dental floss to carefully remove any food that have become lodged between your teeth. Never use pins or other sharps objects as they can very easily cut your gums and damage your tooth enamel. If areas of your gums are inflamed, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. Avoid placing compresses straight onto your gums and teeth as they may be too sensitive and never apply aspirin or any other painkiller directly against your gums as it may burn. If the toothache does not subside within a few days or the ache gets worse, it could indicate a more serious issue that should be investigated by a dentist.

What should I do in a dental emergency?

Chipped, broken, loose and knocked-out teeth all need to be seen by a dentist as soon as possible, but there are steps you can take before hand that can make it easier for the dentist to repair the damage. For chipped and broken teeth try and save any pieces before rinsing them and your mouth carefully. Apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth to reduce swelling and relieve pain and, if there is bleeding, hold a piece of dampened gauze, or a damp tea bag, against the wound for around ten minutes or until the bleeding stops. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can also help but see a dentist as soon as possible and take any pieces of tooth with you as they may be able to reattach them. If you can’t see a dentist immediately, clean the pieces and place them in milk (or a saline solution) until your appointment. If you can’t find the pieces of your tooth, don’t worry; the dentist can use a durable bonding material to build the tooth back up, although if the tooth is badly broken and/or the nerves are exposed a root canal might be the safest option.

If a tooth is fully knocked out however, it is possible to reinsert it. The tooth should be retrieved immediately and held only by the crown, which is the part you can see when it’s in your mouth, whilst the root is rinsed in water if dirty, being careful not to remove any attached tissue fragments. The tooth can also be licked clean if there is no water to hand, but remember you cannot see what you are doing and, depending on the cause of the injury, your mouth may also be hurt. If possible, try to place the tooth back into its socket, making sure that it is facing the right way. If not, put it in a container of milk and in all cases see a dentist as soon as possible; knocked out teeth attended to within one hour have the highest chance of being successfully saved and reseated.

Lost fillings or crowns and malfunctioning braces should all be seen to by a professional. For fillings and crowns try covering the hole or gap with sugarless chewing gum as a temporary measure before seeing a dentist, whereas dental wax or pieces of gauze can be used to temporarily cover or secure loose or sharp braces. Do not try to fix anything yourself and never use superglue as it can easily and immediately bond the sensitive skin inside your mouth to itself.

Abscesses are infections that can occur at the root of a tooth or in the spaces between the teeth and the gums. They are serious infections that can permanently damage and displace the surrounding tissue and teeth and, if left untreated, can spread to other parts of the head and body. If a toothache gets increasingly worse or you see a pimple-like and unusually painful swelling on your gum, see a dentist as soon as possible. If the abscess is already causing pain, rinse out your mouth with a saltwater solution, 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 250ml of water, several times a day. This will also clean your mouth and reduce the pressure on your gums by drawing any pus from the infection to the surface, where it can be more easily extracted by a professional.

If you do injure your mouth or teeth whilst abroad, the best thing you can do is to act quickly. TripMedic can help by arranging a consultation in your own language with a fully qualified dentist as close to you as possible.

information verified by TripMedic