Traveling with Your Teeth
While working on another blog post about what to pack in your carry-on bag for a long flight, I got sucked into reading a few things about teeth and general dental care while traveling and felt it was important enough to write about.
Sure, this is an odd subject and not too many people consider the care of their teeth when traveling.
I can’t imagine having to deal with some sort of tooth emergency while traveling and I am pretty obsessed with my teeth. I was one of those kids who had some mangled looking teefers and have spent close to $10,000 ensuring they are straight, healthy, pearly and I don’t suffer from yuck mouth. The thought of something happening to my teeth while traveling gives me a tooth ache. See what I did there?
I should inform you that I am not a dentist and these Top 7 Teeth Tips (geez – say that 3 times really fast) for when you travel are based on a compilation of other sites which I have referenced for you!
1.Get your dental work done a couple of weeks before you travel.
Go get your teeth cleaned and inspected before your trip. If you find out you need a filling, tooth extraction or a root canal, you’ll have to take care of it as long as your flight is a few weeks after the procedure. The air pressure in a flight cabin can do weird things to our bodies and while it may or may not affect you, it’s better to make sure that you are fully healed and all is well after a major dental procedure.
2. Make sure you have your dentist’s phone number with you.
We don’t normally keep our dentist’s number handy but you never know when you might need to contact your dentist, so just in case, be sure you have their phone number. In the event you find yourself needing dental care, you can always call your dentist to also get a second opinion.
See: Sick on the Road
3. Check your dental insurance coverage.
Are you covered while hanging out with the Sherpas?
What about while running with the bulls? Random break-dancing battle or boxing match?
You may want to call and check your dental coverage and if you’re not covered, consider getting some coverage if you plan on doing anything a tad bit risky.
If you do find yourself needing dental work, be sure to keep copies of receipts and records so you can share them with your insurance company for possible reimbursement and of course, records for your dentist.
Don’t have insurance? Google and do some research before you leave!
See: Does Travel Insurance Cover Dental
4. Know what to do if you knock out a tooth.
I’ve never been in a bar fight although came super close one time in Greece when I was accosted by “flannel girl”. I’d like to think that if I was ever in a bar fight I would either lose a tooth or knock someone’s tooth out.
In either situation, this is what you (or they) should do according to the American Dental Association.
Gently hold it by the crown also known as the white part and gently rinse off your tooth, but don’t scrub it.
Then put it back in your socket. (UGH!!!)
If you can’t put it back in your socket, then keep it between your cheek and gums or a cup of milk. You know…in case you happen to have a cup of it sitting around.
Next, get to a dentist quickly! Some hospitals can also provide emergency dental care.
If you happen to be prone to getting teeth knocked out on occasion, then maybe you need an emergency tooth preservation kit. Who knew these things existed?
5. If you lose a filling which is far more common than losing a tooth.
Common sense reminds us that biting down on something super hard or sticky could cause you to lose a filling but for those of you who like to open beer bottles with their teeth or love that sticky or hard type of candy, losing a filling could be a common occurrence.
In your moment of primal behavior or satisfying your sweet tooth, be sure to know what to do if this happens to you. It’s not usually an emergency, but if you don’t get it taken care of right away, it could cause you to need a root canal. For a temporary solution, use over-the-counter dental cement like Dentemp Repair Kit with Dental Cement – until you can visit a dentist.
I would recommend keeping some of this in your travel kit as this may be hard to find while traveling and I can’t imagine having to translate this!
If you’re reading this while abroad, then you might have a better chance of finding clove oil which can help reduce the sensitivity and pain. Go look in a drug store, grocery store or spice market and use a cotton swab or something else soft to gently apply it to the sensitive area.
Clove oil can also act as an instant breath freshener which you might need right before a random break-dancing battle.
*Just be careful when using too much clove oil as it can irritate your gums.
Hm. I wonder if you could make a spray out of clove oil and use it as pepper spray AND breath freshener!? Dual purpose? I’m going to have to do some more research on this.
6. Finding a Dentist overseas
Do some prep work before you travel.
Depending on where you are traveling to, dental care may not be easily accessible and you also need to be aware of their cleanliness standards. I do my research in case I decide to get a tattoo in the country I am visiting. Same due diligence applies when researching dentists.
Search for dentists and check Yelp reviews, if available. If you find yourself in the dentist’s office/tent/cave, check the cleanliness of the environment and equipment.
Is the equipment sealed? Is there an autoclave? Are they actually using it? *An inspection of this sorts applies in your home country as well!
Here’s a great CNN article with great information about cross-infection in a dental office.
Remember. You want to return to your home country with memories and souvenir magnets, not diseases (of any kind).
7. Pack Dental Floss.
I floss every day. Once, I forgot my dental floss and had to buy some in Paris and it costs me almost $7.00. NOT kidding. Maybe this isn’t a typical price, but I had to have it.
Don’t forget a) to floss every day and b) pack it with you.
Last but not least, smile and “SAY CHEESE!”