Since August is often a time when many of us try to squeeze in that last summer getaway, we thought we’d touch on the topic of dental emergencies on the road – how to avoid them, and what to do if the unexpected happens.
While you can’t always prevent the unexpected, there are certainly easy ways to adapt your behavior on the road to better protect your teeth. Here’s what we tell our traveling patients:
- First, never, ever use your teeth to cut things – use scissors or a knife (you should do this anyway).
- Avoid chewing popcorn kernels, ice cubes, hard/chewy candy, and brittle snacks like Corn Nuts. All are tough on your teeth and can cause a chipped or cracked tooth.
- Even if you never have before, wear a mouth guard if participating in any activity that might cause mouth contact.
Now – what happens if the dreaded occurs? Don’t panic and follow these guidelines:
- There are excellent online resources to help locate a dentist, including on the American Dental Association website. If you are staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for assistance; they often have excellent recommendations for reputable practitioners nearby.
- If you have tooth pain: rinse your mouth with warm water, and gently remove any trapped object with floss ONLY. If your pain is manageable with OTC pain meds (and minus cold/heat sensitivity), avoid chewing on that side and keep the area clean until you can see your dentist. If you are experiencing cold sensitivity, you could have a cracked tooth (see below). Heat sensitivity could indicate a nerve issue, which should be evaluated promptly.
- If you suspect a cracked tooth, rinse with warm water and see a dentist as soon as possible. Do not chew or brush on the affected tooth.
- If you knock a tooth out, keep it moist at all times. If possible, place it back in its proper location without touching the root, or place it between your cheek and gum. See a dentist immediately.
- If your child knocks out a baby tooth, find it and keep it moist. A dentist can let you know if it’s worth re-implanting or if it can be lost permanently; schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
- If you feel you may have broken your jaw, apply cold compresses and seek immediate medical attention at either a dentist’s office or an emergency room.
Travel safe, and feel free to call us with any questions you may have! 508-872-4897