Managing mouth problems while traveling

While we envision our long-awaited vacations going as smoothly as planned, we also know that unexpected events can disrupt our idealistic getaways.

Here are three of the most common mouth issues that can happen when away from home, along with suggested actions to take when these occur and you don’t have immediate access to a dentist. Of course, it is important to make an appointment with your dentist immediately upon your return home as the suggestions below are temporary solutions to help get you through your trip.

  • Knocked out permanent tooth:
    First, find the tooth and pick it up gently by the crown while being careful not the touch the root of the tooth. If the tooth became dirty in the process, wash it briefly in cold, running water without scrubbing.

    Next, try re-implanting the tooth into the socket and maintain the pressure by biting on a towel. If it is not possible to re-implant the tooth, place it in milk, saline or inside the mouth between the cheeks and molars.

    By keeping it inside the mouth, it provides a better environment to preserve the tooth.
  • Broken tooth or lost filling:
    That salt water taffy looks like a nice treat until it pulls out a filling from a previous cavity.

    A broken tooth or lost filling does happen, whether it was caused by food or not, and by purchasing dental (orthodontic) wax at a pharmacy it can be placed in the affected area.

  • Crown comes off: If a crown pops off while away from home, clean and dry the inside of the crown with a Q-tip.

    After that, head to the local pharmacy to purchase dental cement. Fill the dried crown with the cement, fit onto the dried tooth and maintain slight pressure for a couple of minutes.

    After the cement sets, floss between the adjacent teeth.

    Be sure to slide the floss out sideways rather than in an upwards/downwards direction. If dental cement is not available, apply denture adhesive or Vaseline to the inside of the crown.

Dr. Wayne Silverman, Dominion’s Dental Director, has more than 30 years of consulting, teaching and private practice experience. He helps design and review Dominion’s plans, policies and administrative procedures. He is also an associate professor of restorative dentistry at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.