When you’re browsing through travel Web sites, dental care probably isn’t the first thing on your mind. It will be, though, if you end up with tooth pain that keeps you from enjoying the vacation you spent all that time and money arranging. A painful toothache or other dental emergency far from home and your regular dentist can be a traveler’s nightmare.Dental problems can ruin a vacation fast. Any dental emergency like an injury to the teeth or gums can be potentially serious and should not be ignored. Ignoring a dental problem can increase the risk of permanent damage as well as the need for more extensive and expensive treatment later on. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Know Before You Go. Before you leave, get a routine check-up and have your teeth cleaned. If you’re planning on flying within a few days after a dentist appointment, let your dentist know so they don’t perform any procedures that could make your teeth sensitive to air pressure changes.
Toothaches. Toothaches can range from a distressing inconvenience to an intense, miserable experience. Severe, emergency dental pain may be as unrelenting as kidney stones or even labor contractions. Fortunately, the chance of an unforeseen dental crisis can usually be prevented by early detection and treatment of dental disease. When dental disaster does strike, (and it always seems to be at the most inopportune time) knowing how to alleviate the pain is invaluable information everyone can use.
A toothache is any pain or soreness within or around a tooth, indicating inflammation and possible infection. Generally, a toothache occurs if tooth decay is very close to or has penetrated the pulp chamber that contains nerves and tiny blood vessels. Ideally, it’s best to undergo dental treatment at once.
First, thoroughly rinse your mouth with warm water. Use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers to cure toothaches that you can choose from. Most common are paracetamol, aspirin, and acetaminophen. If you feel that a small swelling has occurred, you may take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) for their inflammatory components, like ibuprofen, (Advil, Aleve) and mefenamic acid. However, those with a history of ulcers as well as pregnant women need a doctor’s recommendation before taking NSAID and aspirin. Rubbing aspirin on your gums to numb an aching tooth isn’t a good idea. In fact, it’ll do more harm than good. Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which can burn and damage gum tissue. For general pain relief, it’s a better idea to simply swallow the aspirin. Or stop by a pharmacy for pain-relieving gels like Anbesol or Orajel.
Other home remedies for a toothache include rinsing your mouth with salt water or dabbing some clove oil directly on the bad tooth. Clove oil has bacteria-slaying properties, along with a remarkable numbing effect. “We’ve used clove oil in dentistry for years,” says Dr. Tischler. “Years ago, we would dab clove oil over a tooth before putting a filling in it, but now we have better ways of decreasing the sensitivity.”
For another home remedy, there is numbing power in cooled peppermint tea. Swish, and then swallow if you like the flavor. People can try putting some ice on the area, but the temperature of the ice could send them over the edge. Most challenging are toothaches that stem from inside a tooth. But in cases where a lost filling or a broken tooth is causing the pain, “caulking” the sore tooth with softened chewing gum can ease the pain – covering the sensitive area until it can be repaired.
Chipped or Broken Teeth. Save any pieces. Rinse the mouth using warm water; rinse any broken pieces. If there’s bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply a cold compress to the outside of the mouth, cheek, or lip near the broken/chipped tooth to keep any swelling down and relieve pain.
Canker Sores. People with frequent canker sores check to see if their toothpaste contains sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. SLS is a foaming agent that in some studies has been linked to the development of canker sores. Toothpaste that doesn’t contain SLS usually makes a big deal about it by saying ‘SLS free’ on its label.
An additional remedy for both canker sores and gum pain is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil should be applied directly to the infected site and can even be purchased in mouthwash form to soothe inflammation. Another preventive measure for canker sores is to avoid eating chips and other jagged foods that can cause tiny cuts and scrapes, which can be an entryway for a virus to set up shop in your mouth. Besides that, stay away from foods that trigger canker sores. Potential troublemakers include whole wheat, rye, barley, shellfish, pineapple, chocolate and tomatoes, as well as salty or citrus fruits.
Gum Problems: Bleeding, Swollen, and Sore Gums. According to the World Health Organization, reports showed that 85% of adults in the U.S. have a type of gum disease and most are not aware of it. Various symptoms of gum disease include: swollen, red, tender, bleeding or receding gums; sensitive teeth; obvious plaque, tartar or calculus; persistent bad breath; spaces developing between teeth; or loose or mobile teeth. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is another common symptom. These symptoms occur because the body’s immune system is responding to an infection caused by bacteria in the gums. People usually ignore the symptoms or don’t take them too seriously, since they probably cannot see the infected regions of the gums.
Ginseng can be used to alleviate the pain associated with irritated gum tissue. A ginseng tonic can be directly applied to the gum to promote circulation and speed healing. An additional home remedy suggestion is to use a wet tea bag for tooth or gum pain. Tea contains astringent tannins, which have the power to shrink swollen tissue and stop bleeding.