Dealing with a Dental Emergency on Holiday

When you are planning the activities list for your family holiday, it is fair to assume that a visit to the dentist is not going to be on there. Yet there is no telling when an emergency will crop up. It is a strange fact that most travellers have at least a vague contingency plan on what to do in case of most medical incidents while travelling, but when it comes to a dental emergency, the eventuality has not even crossed their minds.

With holiday season fast looming, let’s put that right with a first principles emergency response plan. We will look at the preparations you can make, how to react to an emergency and what to do if you need to find the ideal London, Paris or Dublin dentist in a hurry.

Prevention is better than cure

Most sensible travellers go for a health check before embarking upon a major trip, particularly if it is to a remote or less developed location. It makes a huge amount of sense to do the same for your teeth.

Have a thorough check up and get them professionally cleaned and polished so that you know they are in perfect condition. You will also be equipped with that tip top smile on your travels!

If you are undergoing root canal treatment, this needs to be completed well in advance of your travel, as the changes in cabin pressure can otherwise cause real discomfort.

Dental safety organisation OSAP suggests that if you are travelling to an undeveloped country, immunization against Hepatitis B is a wise precaution, just in case you need emergency dental treatment in the country of destination. If this could apply to you, bear in mind that you need to start the course of vaccinations six months before you travel.

Reacting to any emergency

Despite the best preparations, emergencies can come up.

If you or a family member experience sudden toothache, as a first course of action, try rinsing the mouth with warm water, and very gently use floss to check if there is food or some other debris caught between the teeth and gums. If the problem persists, you will need to find a local dentist. Do not be tempted to put paracetamol or other painkillers directly on the tooth or gums. All you will do is burn the gum tissue.

A broken or cracked tooth is a scary experience at the best of times, but is doubly upsetting while you are miles from home. Gently rinse the mouth, apply a cold compress and get in touch with a dentist.

If you lose a tooth entirely, you will need to rinse it and get to a dentist in double quick time, to stand any hope of getting it put back successfully. Implants have a far higher success rate if they are performed within an hour, so the clock is running.

Finding a dentist

The good news is that humans the world over have teeth, so finding a good dentist might not be as difficult as you initially think.

Your travel insurance policy should cover dental emergencies (check before you travel!), so use the 24/7 hotline it provides.

Failing that, seek a referral from your hotel concierge or, if you are travelling in a remote location, your national embassy or consulate.

George Abbot

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