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What to do when a dental emergency happens on vacation

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

When you and the family are on vacation, the last thing you want to happen is a dental emergency. The good news is you don't have to figure it out by yourself.

We have tips for common dental emergencies if your family faces an unexpected dental issue away from home. They can calm the situation and provide comfort until you can visit the nearest dentist office.

Dentist offices typically reserve time in their schedule for emergency patients, so calling the nearest dentist can help you address and fix the issue until you get home. If the dental emergency happens outside regular business hours, visit your nearest emergency room for immediate care.


The first step if your child has a toothache is to rinse the mouth with warm water to clean it out. If your child lets you, use dental floss to remove any debris between the teeth, and place an ice pack on the cheek of the area that is causing pain. Sometimes a tooth that has a crack, cavity, or infection may ache during a plane ride because of the high pressure. If this is the case, the pain should subside after the flight.

Most importantly, do not ignore the toothache. If you cannot visit a dentist right away, you can purchase dental cement at a local drugstore to ease the pain of eating and drinking. Once you have the situation under control, visit or make an appointment at the nearest dentist.

Mouth swelling

If your child has a toothache, it can sometimes cause the mouth to swell. Over the counter pain relievers can help with discomfort. Mouth swelling can also occur if your child has a deep cavity or an abscess. If this is the case, do not attempt to drain the fluid. Visit the nearest dentist or nearest emergency room so they can manage the infection and pain for your child.

Cracked or chipped tooth

Immediately rinse the mouth with warm water to clean the area. Next, put a cold compress or ice pack on the face to keep the swelling down and visit the nearest dentist as soon as possible.

Knocked out tooth

For a tooth that was knocked out, whether a baby tooth or permanent, you want to keep the exposed root area moist. Have your child bite down on a clean, damp gauze, tissue, tea bag, or paper towel where the tooth fell out to help the blood clot quickly. If the tooth is permanent, you can keep the tooth for possible reattachment by holding it in the mouth (in between the cheek and gums) or in milk. Next, visit your nearest dentist as soon as possible.

Prepare an emergency kit

The best thing you can do to be prepared in case of a child’s dental emergency is to create an emergency kit for your travels. It can be simple and include a variation of the following items: gauze, toothbrush, floss, a small container (for lost teeth), and pain management options.

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