A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.
You're finally on the vacation you've looked forward to for months! The last thing you want to deal with is a dental emergency. Whether it's a broken tooth, a lost filling, or a run-of-the-mill toothache, having a dental problem while far away from home is not on anyone's bucket list. If you find yourself in this situation, don't panic. Here are some steps you can take to improve your odds of enjoying the rest of your trip.
Take an OTC Pain Reliever
If you have a toothache, don't wait for it to get worse. Instead, take an over-the-counter pain reliever at the first sign of pain. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can be more effective than acetaminophen (Tylenol) because the former gets to the root of inflammation, which contributes to a toothache. If you cannot take it safely, however, take acetaminophen if you can.
In addition to or instead of taking a pill, you can also try placing a clove between the painful tooth and your cheek. This will often settle down the nerve without burning the gum. You can buy numbing gels at the pharmacy, but these can actually irritate the gum if left too long, which will just exacerbate your problem, so it's best to avoid them.
Visit the Dental Care Aisle of the Pharmacy or Grocery Store
If you've lost a filling or chipped a tooth, the pain is only part of your problem. The other part is that you now have a hole or a sharp edge, which can make your tongue or inner cheek sore. While you aren't able to get to your dentist for a repair, you can often patch it up temporarily on your own. Check out the dental care aisle of a local pharmacy or grocery store, and look for orthodontic wax and temporary filling material.
You can use the temporary filling material to fill in the hole left by a broken or lost filling. You can also use this material as a temporary glue if you've had a crown come loose. Use the orthodontic wax to cover a sharp edge that's bothering your inner cheek, lip or tongue. Neither of these are long-term options, but you can reapply them as needed until you get home.
Look for a Local Emergency Dentist
It can be hard to find a dentist to see while you are on vacation, because many are going to be completely booked up with their own current patients, but most areas have a dentist who is able to take patients on an emergency basis. If you are having a lot of pain or you have broken off a front tooth, you might be able to get into an office that isn't too busy to see you. If you are staying with family or you know someone in the local area, they also might be able to get you in with their family dentist, someone like Milner Dentistry. Another option is to call your dental insurance company; they might have a list of dentists in the area where you are staying who wouldn't mind squeezing you in as an emergency.
Go to the Emergency Room
While it should be used as a last resort, it is possible to get treatment at the emergency room in some cases. They will probably not be able to do dental work, but if you are very swollen or you have symptoms of a severe infection, the doctors there an at least give you antibiotics to begin fighting it off until you can get home to see your regular dentist.
Once you get home, see your dentist as soon as you can. Even if the pain has gone away or you were able to patch up a hole temporarily, chances are excellent that the symptoms will come back. A temporary filling is not meant to be used long-term, and OTC painkillers should not be used over a long period of time, either.