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As vaccinations become more prevalent, travel restrictions are lifted and masks begin to come off, families and individuals are hurriedly making summer vacation plans to celebrate a sense of new found freedom.

Whether you’re embarking on a road trip, taking a flight to an exotic destination or simply enjoying a day at the beach, an unexpected problem in your mouth can become a major distraction. Fortunately, there are common-sense, short-term solutions we can apply until we return home and see our regular dentist:

  • Toothaches. 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
  • 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 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, or use orthodontic wax, a small cotton ball or a piece of gauze to cover the wire tip.
  • Lost aligners. If you’re only a few days into your new aligners, revert to your previous aligners. If you’re close to finishing your two-week treatment, jump ahead to the next set of aligners. Let your orthodontist know so he can make adjustments to your treatment plan
  • 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, but it’s important to see a dentist when you return home. Better yet, put “dental appointment” on your to-do list before you leave.

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