Before you head away on holiday, book a visit to your dental office

Dental Travel Tips That Can Save Your Vacation

If it’s been over six months since you’ve had a check-up, exam, x-rays and a cleaning, go see your dentist. It’s a lot easier to take care of a small cavity, a sensitive tooth, a chipped denture or a loose crown than dealing with these issues on your vacation.
Your dentist must do a thorough exam and take a close look at the cavity detection x-rays called bitewings. In the world of dentistry, pain is the last symptom. Undetected tooth decay can finally work its way down the center of the tooth until it reaches the tooth nerve. The tooth nerve then becomes infected and inflamed and tries to swell, but it can’t because it is surrounded by the tooth. That’s why the tooth throbs. The treatment of choice to relieve the throbbing pain is to have root canal therapy and a new crown placed over the weakened tooth.

You can have cavities and tooth decay and not even know it because there is no sensitivity or pain present. Only your dentist with the help of x-rays can find these areas of decay and recommend permanent treatment. Usually all that is required to restore the tooth back to its normal form and function is for your dentist to painlessly place a permanent filling in your tooth.

Make sure you have a good teeth cleaning by your dentist or by your dental hygienist before you leave. A good cleaning will remove tartar and plaque buildup that can cause future tooth decay, bleeding gums and gum disease. Gum disease is also a painless disease in its early and intermediate stages. Gum disease if allowed to continue without treatment, will cause the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Research has indicated that gum disease is also a contributing factor to heart disease.

A sensitive tooth can escalate into a raging toothache through dramatic changes in atmospheric pressures. That means flying in an airplane higher than 30,000 feet or while scuba diving deeper than 33 feet.

The tiny root canals in the center of your teeth contain nerves and blood vessels. These canal systems bring moisture to your teeth giving them strength and flexibility. The nerves provide the sensations of hot and cold. Just as if you sprained an ankle; your ankle swells. The root canal system reacts in the same way. Any inflammation present inside your tooth can cause slight sensitivity. When sudden changes in atmospheric pressure occur, then the inflammation is intensified and pressure within your tooth occurs.

Here are some tips to remember when you go away this summer:

  1. If you’re wearing a temporary filling or temporary crown, pick up a box of dental temporary filler and crown adhesive at your local drug store. That will serve as your “safety-net” back up if your temporary filling or crown becomes loose and pops out. Better yet, have the permanent filling or crown completed before you go on your trip.If your crown pops out during dinner and there’s no dental office in site and you didn’t bring your temporary crown adhesive, don’t panic. If you can find a tube of toothpaste and one toothpick you’re in luck. Just squirt a little toothpaste on the toothpick and coat the inner side of your crown with the toothpaste and then fill up one third of the crown with the toothpaste. Now place the crown back on your tooth, (the longer side is usually on the cheek side), and push it down with your finger. Once the crown is seated, take your finger out of your mouth and then gently close down with your teeth to firmly position the crown to its proper place. Then brush out the excess toothpaste with a toothbrush. The toothpaste in the crown will take about thirty minutes to set up. Then no chewing sticky foods on that tooth until you can get back to your dentist who will use permanent crown cement to place the crown back on your tooth.
  2. If you wear a denture, bring along your back up “immediate denture.” You never know when your original denture will suddenly break or become lost. It’s not a bad idea to always have two sets of dentures at all times. For denture wearers, don’t forget to pack denture adhesive powder and super glue. Adhesive powder to keep your dentures in if they ever get loose and super glue to place a denture tooth back into the pink acrylic base if a tooth pops out. Have your dentist thoroughly check your dentures before you leave.
  3. There are essential items that must be included in your dental travel kit. First of all make sure you pack two toothbrushes. Not all destinations have a 24-hour convenience store on every corner. Other items include toothpaste, floss, toothpicks, lip balm and a dental first aid kit just in case a crown or a filling comes out.
  4. Make sure you pack a bottle of ibuprofen, (Advil), or acetaminophen, (Tylenol), just in case you do experience any dental discomfort and don’t have immediate access to emergency dental care.If you do experience a toothache and can’t sleep, take some pain-killers and then keep your head above your heart. That means using two pillows or more. Lying down prone allows gravity to increase the pressure on the tooth nerve causing more throbbing and pain. A good way to battle a toothache is to alternate 600 mg. of Tylenol and 600 mg. of Advil every three to four hours. This regiment gives a deeper and more long lasting method of relief until you can receive professional help.

    Please do not place an aspirin next to your sore tooth. The aspirin will literally burn a hole into your gums and cheek. This old wife’s tale and remedy myth is still being perpetuated even in these modern times. Yes, your tooth doesn’t hurt as bad because now you have a pain that is three times worse in your gums and in your cheek.

Don’t Wait Until It Hurts!

All of these products only provide temporary solutions. Your dentist and the dental lab can only provide long lasting permanent solutions. If you are constantly using denture powder or adhesive to keep your dentures in, then you may need a reline or a new denture. If your tooth is sensitive to cold or when putting pressure on it while chewing, there may be a cracked filling, a cracked tooth or an ill-fitting crown. Teeth that throb under atmospheric pressures may have a nerve that is inflamed and require root canal therapy.

Again, in the world of dentistry, pain is the last symptom. Usually when a tooth becomes painful, and constantly throbs for no reason, there is an inflamed nerve involved. The treatment is root canal therapy. If you suspect any type of sensitivity or discomfort, go see your dentist. Don’t let a toothache ruin your entire vacation!