May 29, 2019 Ann Le When you are away on vacation, on a business trip, visiting family out of town or on a holiday overseas, the last thing that you want to think about is finding an emergency dentist. But sometimes they happen when you least want them to. The best thing that you can do during a dental emergency is to remain calm, contact your regular dentist, and determine if you can see an emergency dentist. With this in mind, it is important that you first identify if you are experiencing a true dental emergency before you visit a dentist while you are away from home. Is it a True Dental Emergency? There are many dental scenarios that aren’t actual emergencies. We’ve put together a comprehensive a easy-to-read guide here, but you can find a quick recap below. The good news is that if you aren’t experiencing a true dental emergency, then you can typically wait to schedule an appointment with your regular dentist when you return home. The following instances are typically considered dental emergencies and should be resolved immediately. Broken Tooth: If you have a broken tooth, from a fairly minor breakage to a tooth broken in half, then you should immediately contact an emergency dentist. You should also clean your mouth with warm water. A cold compress can be applied to your face to reduce swelling. Finally, if you are able, then you can try taking acetaminophen to reduce the pain associated with the broken tooth. Loose or Missing Tooth: Loose teeth in adults aren’t typically considered emergencies. However, you should schedule a dentist appointment within 24 – 48 hours of noticing the loose tooth. If you are missing a tooth, then you should immediately contact an emergency dentist to ensure that you don’t get an infection. Fractured or Cracked Tooth: A fractured or cracked tooth can cause trauma to the inside of your mouth. If you have a cracked or fractured tooth while away on vacation, then you should immediately contact an emergency dentist. Painful Toothache: Many minor toothaches aren’t considered dental emergencies. However, if your toothache has reached painful levels, then you should contact a dentist to ensure that you aren’t also suffering from an infection, abscess, or other serious condition. Abscess: Abscesses are considered a dental emergency that should be treated immediately to reduce the risk of infection. Pus or Infection: If there is pus inside of your mouth, then you might have either a larger scale infection, or it might be indicative of a bigger problem. Bleeding Gums: Gums that are continuously bleeding, or have resulted in a large amount of blood loss, are considered a dental emergency. However, it is important to note that minor gum bleeding, such as after you floss, is not considered an emergency. Swollen Face or Gums: A swollen face or gums can often be an indicator of a larger problem. If you have significant swelling of your gums or face, then you should visit an emergency dentist. It’s an Emergency & You Have Insurance Oftentimes, it is easier to handle a dental emergency when you have insurance. With this in mind, it is always a good idea to try to see an emergency dentist who is in-network. Many dentists, like ourselves at Bunker Hill Dentistry, accept many insurance plans and make emergency appointments easy to schedule by allowing walk-in patients and being open 6 days a week when required. Additionally, you should always contact your regular dentist as soon as possible. Your regular dentist will be able to work with your emergency dentist to ensure that applicable records are shared and that you receive the best treatment possible. In this vein, many dental practices have after-hours emergency lines that you can call if you experience an emergency after normal business hours. Many also provide callback or voicemail services for out of hours calls. If you can’t get hold of your regular dentist and you are suffering a dental emergency, head to the nearest emergency room for treatment. It’s an Emergency & You Don’t Have Insurance If you experience a dental emergency when you are traveling, but don’t have insurance, don’t panic. The first thing you need to do is to stay calm; after all, anxiety can increase pain throughout your body. Next, you can try using a salt and warm water mixture to rinse your mouth, reduce irritation, and lower swelling. A cold compress can be used on the outside of your face to reduce swelling. During this time, you should reach out to your regular dentist to confirm that you are actually experiencing a dental emergency. Next, you will want to look for one of the following affordable emergency dental options. Dental schools typically provide affordable dental care to uninsured individuals. Free or governmental clinics often have licensed dentists who volunteer their time and offer free services to the local community. Payment plans are offered by numerous dental offices throughout the United States. This is often an affordable option if you are traveling out of state and experience a dental emergency. Charity or community events that focus on affordable dental care. Oftentimes the latter events provide the opportunity for uninsured individuals in need to receive quality dental care during an emergency while they are away from home. The most important thing to remember during a dental emergency is that if you wait too long, then your symptoms will typically get worse, you might experience additional pain, and the dental solution might become more expensive. You’re Traveling Overseas Before you travel overseas it is a great idea to have a dental emergency plan in place. In other words, before you travel, decide: Who you will call; How to get hold of your regular dentist; How you will pay for emergency dental services; and What steps you can take to prevent an emergency during your trip. During your travels abroad it is always a great idea to practice good oral health. Be sure to travel with plenty of toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash, floss, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You should also plan on seeing your dentist before you take an extended trip overseas. Finally, you can decrease the likelihood of a dental emergency by avoiding foods that are hard on your mouth, teeth, and gums. Prevent a Dental Emergency in the First Place Do you have a history of cavities? Have you experienced sensitive gums? No matter the state of your dental health, it is always a good idea to go in for a cleaning and checkup before you take an extended trip away from home. The best way to avoid a dental emergency is to practice good oral health every single day. Ann LeAnn Le has been successfully managing dental practices since 1990. She is currently Practice Manager at Bunker Hill Dentistry in Houston, TX which she runs with her husband Dr. Tri M Le.