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How to deal with dental problems while on vacation

Summer will soon come to a close, but there’s still time to slip away for some much-needed vacation time.

Whether you’re loading up the kids for a road trip over a long weekend, taking a flight to an exotic destination, or simply enjoying a sunny day at the beach, an unexpected problem in your mouth can become a major dilemma.

What happens if you break or chip a tooth, lose a filling, or begin to suffer from the pain of a never-ending toothache, and you have no immediate access to your regular dentist? There are a few things – temporary solutions – that you can do immediately to address the problem and help ease the pain, at least until you return home:

Toothache: Rinse mouth with warm water and use dental floss to remove any lodged food. If swelling appears, hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek. Never put aspirin against the gums or on the sore tooth, because it may burn the gum tissue.
Chipped or broken tooth: Rinse mouth and any broken pieces with warm water. If bleeding, apply a piece of gauze to the area for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Hold a cold compress to the outside of the mouth or cheek to reduce swelling and ease pain.
Lost filling: Stick a piece of sugarless gum into the cavity (sugar-filled gum will cause pain) or use an over-the-counter dental cement.
Lost crown: If in pain, use a cotton swab to apply a little clove oil to the tooth. Try to slip the crown back over the tooth. Before putting the crown back in place, coat the inner surface with an over-the-counter dental cement, toothpaste or denture adhesive to help hold it in place. Never use super glue!
Broken braces wire: If a wire breaks or sticks out and is poking you, use the eraser end of a pencil to move the wire. If that is not working, use orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze to cover the wire tip. Don’t cut the wire, because you risk swallowing it.
Knocked-out tooth: Retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown (the part that is usually exposed in the mouth) and rinse with warm water. Using no force, try to replace the tooth facing the right way. If that’s not possible, put the tooth in a small container of milk (or a cup of water that contains a pinch of table salt). A tooth that has been knocked out has the highest chance of being saved when it is returned to the socket within one hour.

These tips can help get you through an emergency, they’re no substitute for a visit to a professional. If you have dental problems while you’re away, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as you get home. That way, your dental emergency will become a distant memory.

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How to choose the right Halloween candy
It’s October and time for Halloween! It's great fun for children, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, collecting candy, coming home to admire their haul, and sometimes stockpiling it for months. But dentists aren’t nearly as enamored with Halloween, because they know the possible ramifications of eating candy: not only damage to the teeth and gums but also possibly to a child's overall health. You already know that having healthy teeth and gums has an impact that goes far beyond the mouth. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities, periodontal disease and infection, which can impact a patient's heart, lungs, and entire body. Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental & Orthodontics, has five tips on candy for patients of all ages: 1. Choose candy carefully. Avoid hard candy, such as lollipops, and other sweets that stay in the mouth for a long time. These candies increase the risk for tooth decay. 2. Avoid chewy candy. Chewy, sticky treats, such as caramels or gummies, are particularly damaging as they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, and are more difficult for saliva to break down. 3. Chocolate is preferable. Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth and can be eaten easily, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth. 4. Eat Halloween candy only after mealtime. Parents should avoid letting their kids snack on candy throughout the day. Saliva production increases during meals, helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles. 5. Take preventive steps. Drinking water intermittently helps to keep the sugar from resting in the grooves of their teeth. And while you might be tired of hearing it, brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly before going to bed are crucial. By exercising good common sense, you’ll maintain a bright smile and healthy gums throughout the Halloween season and beyond. Happy Halloween!