Should You Get A Dental Checkup Before Traveling?

Your next vacation is just around the corner and you’re looking forward to having an amazing, fun, and relaxing adventure abroad.  It doesn’t matter where your destination is, you’ll want to make sure that things run smoothly and nothing avoidable occurs that could ruin your holiday. 

That means taking charge and making a list of things to take care of before you leave.  This might include tasks like scheduling work vacation time, finding someone to watch your pets, a house sitter to water plants, and making sure you have all the necessary visas along with adequate travel and health insurance coverage to keep you safe if you ever need help. 

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You’ll also want to ensure your overall health is taken care of before you leave, meaning booking a checkup with your MD as well as your dentist.  Travelers often overlook the latter but not much will ruin your vacation faster than a toothache from a loose filling or a pesky cavity. 

Good thing is, most dental issues are avoidable and that makes booking an appointment with your dentist before going on any extended travel a must-do task.

Check-up on your oral health before departure

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If you’ve ever had a dental issue like a loose filling, cavity, or broken implant, you’ll know how annoying and painful it can be, as well as how easily it could have been avoided.  Most common dental problems suffered by travelers can be avoided by simply getting a checkup at the dentist.  

This is also the time to have any potential concern addressed while you’re at home, instead of finding yourself in a situation where you are scrambling to find help in a foreign country. Dental care abroad is often very expensive, difficult to find, and can often be susceptible to safety issues, especially in remote countries.  An incident requiring dental surgery would be terrible, but even something as seemingly minor as a toothache can really throw a wrench in your travel itinerary.

Should you opt for dental insurance when you travel?

To ensure you have access to the help you need if something unforeseen happens, it’s recommended to include the maximum dental coverage available from your medical insurance provider.  It won’t even be a very expensive add-on but it could make all the difference if you need it on the road.  The answer is easy – Yes! You definitely want dental coverage, so you don’t find yourself stuck paying for dental work out of your own pocket.

Should I travel with major dental issues?

Your dentist will likely recommend that you don’t go on an extended trip if you have a serious dental concern because you never know what might happen and you could end up in need of professional dental help.  Clear up your issue before you travel so you don’t risk needing urgent care in a foreign country.  If you have had recent dental work that isn’t fully healed, like dental implants or wisdom teeth removal, for example, you should likely also consider foregoing travel until your mouth is ready.  Open wounds in your mouth leave you more susceptible to serious infection, and without a proper care routine, the chances of complications rise dramatically.  Sometimes it’s hard enough to keep your teeth clean while traveling, let alone rinse and take care of a post-surgery problem.  Even procedures that seem simple, like a cavity or filling, can become problems.  Take-off and landing in an airplane can be quite uncomfortable as well.  The bottom line is that if you have a dental issue that makes you uncomfortable, then you should probably think about staying home until it has healed.

Of course, there are accidents that can happen no matter how well you prepare, and a dental problem can pop up at any time.  A dental check-up will only guard you against known issues but anything trauma-induced or accidental can’t be foreseen.  Lacerations to your mouth or a knocked-out tooth will usually require immediate care, as will a damaged denture.

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The most common dental issues that can arise while traveling include:

  • Toothache
  • Chipped or broken tooth
  • A knocked-out tooth
  • Cavities and loose or lost fillings
  • Oral lacerations, infections, or bleeding
  • Damage to necessary dentures or other dental appliances

What to do if you have a dental emergency while traveling?

Sometimes accidents happen and you find yourself in need of urgent dental care while traveling.  It’s obviously not ideal and is often scary but remember that staying calm and not panicking is the best thing to do.  Consider asking someone local (a relative, a friend, the concierge at your hotel) for help – they are likely to know their way around and can direct you on getting proper care.  

If it’s a minor concern like a toothache, a pharmacy might have what you need in terms of painkillers that will let you ride out the rest of your trip and get dental care back at home.  The most common concerns might still require a dentist, but you can take your time finding the right professional for your situation.  A dental emergency might require help straight away though, meaning a trip to the nearest hospital emergency room is the best idea.  Someone local you know; a tour guide or other hospitality professional can help guide you in the right direction.

No matter what type of concern you’re dealing with, having someone that knows how to help on your side will put your mind at ease and make it easier to overcome the problem.

More ways to avoid dental issues while on vacation

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  • First things first, when it comes to a healthy mouth (which is what you obviously want for traveling) you really need to have a proper oral hygiene routine.  That means always taking the time to clean your teeth and mouth, even if you have a lot of other more fun stuff going on.
  • Always use bottled water in foreign countries where you aren’t sure about the cleanliness of the water coming out of the tap.  Remember to use bottled water to rinse your mouth and clean your toothbrush – not just for drinking purposes.
  • Get a dental checkup before you set out to avoid any avoidable issues happening while you are away.
  • With a responsible approach and a proactive mindset, you should manage to steer clear of the need for dental work while abroad, but just in case, it’s always good to be prepared.

Safe and happy travels!