Knowing how to handle a dental emergency can sometimes mean the difference between a happy and unhappy holiday experience.
Whether you’re headed for a Christmas holiday, winter cruise, a cottage weekend, or just enjoying the great Ontario outdoor, it’s smart to be prepared for any kind of dental emergency.
It’s not a good idea to embark on holiday travel immediately after significant dental work has been done. A quick pre-vacation visit to your dentist may be a good idea, especially if your travels take you to a remote destination. When travelling far from home, avoid sticky and hard exotic foods that you are not used to eating. Many dental emergencies are due to lost fillings, broken teeth or ill-fitting dentures.
Consider assembling an inexpensive dental kit to take with you on your holiday travels. Dental cement compounds are available to replace a filling temporarily. Orthodontic wax protects sharp edges, especially on braces. A pair of tweezers, a small mirror, some sterile cotton, and (if applicable) a denture repair kit with adhesive may also come in handy.
Most of all, don’t forget the toothbrushes, fluoride toothpaste and floss. If a tooth has been broken as a result of an accident or injury, rinse the mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. Use cold compresses to keep the swelling down and get to a dentist’s office quickly.
If the tongue or lip is bitten, clean the area gently with a cloth, and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, go to a hospital emergency room at once.
In case of a toothache, rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. Make sure food or foreign objects aren’t lodged around the tooth by using dental floss.
Do not apply aspirin or any other analgesic on the gums, or around the aching tooth because they may cause a burn on the mouth tissues and do more harm than good.
Although you can create a temporary filling, do not take any chances with a broken or abscessed tooth. Locate a dentist as soon as possible.
Travelling far from home? Pack your insurance card with policy number, along with your “home” dentist’s phone number. If you encounter a problem, you can call your dentist for a telephone consultation and he or she can help you decide whether you need to seek immediate dental care.
A hotel concierge or a local dental society are good dental referral sources too.
Yours for better dental health,
Dr. Russell Grover