Planning a winter getaway soon? You’re sure to remember the SPF 30+ sunscreen, shorts, bathing suits and sandals OR your snowsuits, gloves, hats, scarves and flannels. But what do you think you need to remember for your vacationing teeth and gums?

Your teeth are like travel stowaways. They sneak on board and you don’t give them much thought, but allow me to be your conscience. Knowing what to do in a travel dental emergency can mean the difference between saving and losing a tooth, so be prepared.


  • Have a pre-vacation checkup with your oral health provider and have your teeth cleaned, especially if you have periodontal or gum disease.

  • All root canal work should be completed before traveling.

  • If traveling to lesser-developed countries, the Organization of Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP is dedicated to safe, infection-free dental care globally) recommends immunization against Hepatitis B in case dentists are not vaccinated.

  • You know you need a toothbrush and toothpaste, but if you’re traveling with an electric toothbrush make sure you’re prepared in the event you need a converter, or bring along a new, manual toothbrush.

  • Pack your favorite floss because brushing twice daily and flossing does not take a winter vacation!

  • Travelling to a remote island or the Bush? Just in case… pack supplies such ibuprofen or acetaminophen (if your medical history allows), a desensitizing toothpaste such as Sensodyne for discomfort, a small container of salt for warm water rinses, a topical anesthetic such as Orajel or Anbesol, and Listerine for irritated and tender gums, canker sores or inflamed wisdom teeth.

  • Need an emergency dentist? The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests first visiting and click on “ADA Find-a-Dentist” to find an ADA member dentist, ask the local hospital or dental society to recommend a dentist, or go to, or check with your hotel for a list of dentists. If you are out of the country, contact the U.S. or Canadian Embassies or Consulates for lists of local medical and dental staff, or online at After clicking on the country you are visiting, medical listings are found under the headings "U.S” or “Canada.”

  • A swollen face, mouth or gums might be an infection or abscess, so seek immediate dental or medical attention so it doesn’t get worse and spread. You might need an antibiotic which will kill the bacteria causing the swelling, tissue damage and infection, and will relieve pain. Apply ice or a cold compress to help reduce swelling and pain.

  • Have unexplained pain or discomfort? A broken or cracked tooth, loose crown or veneer? Try a warm salt water rinse, or ice the tooth and gums. There are numerous topical, temporary pain products available in the dental aisle of a local pharmacy such as Oragel, Anbesol or clove oil, and temporary adhesives like Fixadent, Polygrip or dental cements to use until you can see a dentist.

  • Knocked out tooth? Hold the tooth by the crown, rinse off the root of the tooth in water, if dirty, and do not scrub! According to the ADA, if you can’t hold the tooth back in its socket, put the tooth in a cup of milk and get to a dentist, fast!

  • Bleeding from a bitten tongue or lip? Apply a cold compress to stop the bleeding and keep swelling down.


Be prepared. Safe travels and BON VOYAGE!

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