It’s mid-August and everyone is still in summer vacation mode. But even on vacation, dental emergencies can happen. So here are my recommendations for how you and your family can handle dental emergencies until you return home, and visit your family oral health care provider. KEEP THIS IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY!


If you or members of your family haven’t had a recent dental
exam, please do so before traveling! It’s also optimal to ask your oral health care provider for recommended emergency contact information and addresses for your travel destination.

If a dental emergency happens while on vacation, and you don’t know what to do or where to go, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you visit  and click on “ADA Find-a-Dentist” to find an ADA member dentist near your location. You can also ask your hotel concierge or manager, or local hospital or dental society for a recommendation.

To find a local dental society, go to  If language is a barrier, it’s important to make sure that emergency care professionals understand your emergency, and that you are able to understand all of your treatment care options and costs.

If you’re out of the country, you may also contact the Canadian or U.S. Embassy. Many embassies and consulates keep lists of local medical and dental staff, which are also available online at After clicking on the country you are visiting, medical listings are found under "U.S. or Canadian Citizen Services." Investigate the licenses of dental or medical care professionals, as well as cost in your currency.

Here are some dental emergencies and temporary emergency care options, but my advice is to follow up with quick and attentive medical care with a dentist, or at a hospital or medical care center.

  • Knocked out adult tooth: Hold by top, rinse briefly with water if dirty, place back into socket, and hold gently with clean washcloth or gauze.
  • Broken or cracked tooth: Rinse mouth and retain tooth piece in clean, wet gauze or washcloth.
  • Loose or lost crown or filling: Until you can seek dental care at home with your dentist, if you lose a filling, don’t chew on that side of your mouth. Keep the loose crown over your tooth and secure with temporary dental cement or adhesive.
  • Broken dentures: Try and find a dentist who can perform minor repairs or adjustments, until you can visit your oral health care provider at home.
  • Bitten tongue or lip: Gently clean area, and use a cold compress or ice to help reduce swelling. If bleeding heavily, immediately get to the nearest hospital or medical care center!
  • Objects caught between teeth: Gently try to remove the object with dental floss. Do not use any sharp objects to remove object.
  • Toothache or swollen face: Take pain medication such as Ibuprofen, if no allergies or medical contraindications, and seek immediate dental or medical attention.
  • Possible broken jaw: Apply a cold compress or ice to control swelling, and immediately get to a dentist, hospital or medical care center.


Stay calm and focused in any dental emergency, and seek appropriate care as soon as possible. Your goal it to attend to your dental emergency and have as positive an outcome as possible, until you are able to return home and visit your oral health care provider.

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