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Chapter 25 : Toothache in a Foreign Land

Getting a toothache while traveling overseas can be more than just annoying and inconvenient. It can ruin a good vacation. Here are some tips for preventing a toothache before you get on that plane, and for treating it if you get one anyhow.

Traveler's Dental Care

First of all, don't ever go on a long trip if you have an unresolved tooth problem, or even the hint of a toothache starting. Get it taken care of by a dentist, and if there is lingering pain, get a prescription pain reliever to take with you.

Have dental work done far enough in advance of your trip to be sure that all the pain is gone. It is common for a high spot on a new filling to cause severe pain days after it is put in. Any dentist can easily solve this by grinding it down - but wouldn't you rather have it done by the dentist you know and trust?

Avoid doing anything that can cause toothaches or other dental problems while traveling. Avoid eating popcorn, for example. It may be one of the worst foods for damaging teeth.

A toothbrush AND floss are a good idea on any trip, of course. Toothpaste may no longer be allowed on the plane, however. If you travel with only carry-on, this means you will have to remember to buy toothpaste as soon as you arrive at your destination.

You can carry a bit of baking soda as an alternative as well - this will be allowed on the plane. Toothbrushes and floss are about dental problem prevention, of course, but what if your toothache starts while you're overseas?

Toothache Treatment

Try aspirin. Tylenol #3 is even better for a severe toothache. Antiseptics that contain benzocaine, applied directly to the irritated tooth and gum will temporarily relieve pain. Oil of cloves (eugenol) will also may help when applied to teeth and gums. Never put aspirin or other painkillers directly to gums, as they may burn your gum tissue.

Sometimes tooth pain does not originate in the teeth or gums, but in the sinus cavities. It may be a sinus infection putting pressure on the gums from above. In these cases, you might have to eliminate the infection with antibiotics to get relief. Some temporary relief is possible if you can clear the sinuses by steaming (carefully) your face, or eating hot sauce.

When teeth are temperature sensitive, you should obviously avoid hot and cold drinks. If it is cold outside, it will also help to breath through your nose. Breathing through the mouth brings cold air flowing over your teeth and can cause a lot of pain.

I have a toothache - the inspiration for this chapter. Two days ago I noticed that each time we drove over a mountain pass here in Colorado, the pain intensified. Descending below 8,000 feet provided quite a bit of toothache relief. If you notice this problem, be ready when flying - not all planes are fully pressurized.

Should you visit a dentist in another country? Certainly you'll have to if it is an emergency. Some toothaches are too severe to wait. You may prefer to just treat the pain until you get home otherwise. On the other hand, if the problem is simple, like a lost filling, some countries provide an opportunity for cheap dental care. Ask first, to see that the dentists are using gloves and the latest tools.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams. - Mary Ellen Kelly

Continue with Chapter 26 here: Overseas Travel

Note: This chapter on toothache relief when traveling was part of the e-book Travel Secrets. Now all chapters are free on this site. See the homepage (the link is at the bottom of this page) for a list of all chapters and links to them.


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