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Why you should visit the dentist before you travel

written by Vidya Sury June 29, 2019
why you should visit the dentist before you travel

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Dental emergencies can be a pain! Regular dental exams are important for preventive dental care and health. If you are planning to go on a trip overseas, make sure you visit the dentist. Schedule a dentist’s appointment for the entire family at least a month before your departure date. You will save yourself the misery of a sudden dental emergency that can spoil your happy plans. Can you imagine looking for a dentist in an unfamiliar place in a remote part of the world?

Reasons to Visit the Dentist

A dental check up is simply a way to prevent tooth decay and other unexpected dental issues. The focus is on prevention rather than for a restorative purpose. The latter is more expensive and time intensive depending on the severity of your dental condition.

The dentist will evaluate your overall dental health and oral hygiene and do the following:

  • Check if there are signs of tooth decay or gum disease.
  • If there is a need for tooth restoration or replacement, she will advise you what to do. Check on your bite and jaw.
  • Remove stains or deposits in your teeth.
  • Demonstrate proper cleaning techniques to ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy.
  • Show you how to clean your dentures if you use them
  • Assess if there is a need for fluoride.
  • Ask for dental-x-rays and other diagnostic procedures if necessary. Dental X-rays help identify tooth decay, cavities and impacted teeth.

Factors that will determine if you need more than your yearly dental x-rays include:

  • Age
  • Current oral health
  • Signs of oral disease
  • History of gum disease and tooth decay

If you or your family are visiting your dentist for the first time, dental x-rays can give a clear picture of your dental health. This is an important tool especially if there are no x-rays from your previous dentist. For children, they may be required to have more than an annual dental x-ray to monitor the growth of adult teeth. This can help the dentist decide if there is a need to pull baby teeth. There are cases when baby teeth grow behind adult teeth.

What happens during your visit to the dentist

When you visit your dentist, here are the standard procedures that you can expect:

The dentist will clean your teeth using a prophy paste.

Prophy paste offers superior cleaning, stain removing and enamel care features in patient-friendly flavors. Before she starts to clean your teeth, she will ask which prophy paste flavor you prefer.  With the continuous advancements in the field of dentistry, there are many flavors to choose from such as minty, fruity, fruit punch, bubblegum, chocolate, grapes, oranges and more. Prophy paste manufacturers keep coming up with new flavors to make your dental visit something to look forward to, particularly for children.

The dental cleaning procedure is also referred to as oral prophylaxis. Besides the prophy paste, this procedure includes removing plaque build-up on your teeth. Your teeth might require the need for a scaler which provides deep cleaning above and below your gum line.

After the dental cleaning, the dentist will check your teeth for the presence of tooth cavities and gum disease. The dental exams will include checking your mouth, gums, and teeth, your face and neck for the presence of abnormalities. This can include a request for dental x-rays and other diagnostic procedures.

Your dentist will polish your teeth after the dental cleaning procedure. This involves removing plaque and tooth stains. After polishing your tooth surface, your dentist will use fluoride varnish. These treatments contain a much higher amount of fluoride than what your toothpaste normally has.  Fluoride varnish is painted on the teeth as a type of topical fluoride therapy.

Fluoride varnish is not permanent. Fluoride varnish will stays on your tooth surface for a few hours. Fluoride varnish can be applied on any of these tooth parts to prevent tooth decay:

  • Enamel
  • Dentine
  • Cementum

Fluoride varnish is made of salt or saline preparation that your teeth can quickly absorb and has been widely used in Africa, Canada, Europe, and Scandinavian countries since the 1980s to prevent dental cavities.

Your dentist will discuss your diet and daily oral hygiene habits. This will include a discussion on how you brush your teeth, whether you use dental floss and your lifestyle as it impacts your oral health.

Can You Fly After Having Dental Work?

If you have dental fillings done, there is no reason why you cannot fly. However, the shift in altitude during your flight can cause minor discomfort. The pain level will depend on the sensitivity of your tooth. This can be relieved with an ice pack applied to the aching tooth and gums. Your dentist may also prescribe painkillers like Ibuprofen or Paracetamol to reduce the discomfort.

Dental pain usually escalates when the dental work is close to a nerve. Your ability to handle pain will depend on your own pain threshold. With major dental work such as implants, wisdom tooth removal and root canal surgery, wait at least forty-eight hours before you travel. Dental experts recommend resting at least 5 to 7 days after root canal surgeries to ensure that there is no post-op pain.

Here are some tips to take care of your teeth after major dental work.

  • Use proper tooth brushing techniques per your dentist’s advice.
  • You can minimize infection by cleaning your mouth. Use warm salt rinse for two weeks. Gargle and swish in your mouth daily.
  • Your dentist may advise you to take an oral antiseptic for at least two weeks
  • Do watch out for signs of infection. If the pain continues or if you notice swelling, contact your dentist.
  • Apply firm pressure on the surgical site with gauze for at least 30 minutes.
  • Avoid sucking using straws since this affects blood clotting
  • Avoid hot beverages for a few days until you heal.

The Bottom Line

If you are traveling by plane, the air pressure in the cabin can cause your drilled tooth to become extra sensitive. So plan your visit a month before flying abroad. Of course, if you require a dental surgical procedure such as the removal of a wisdom tooth or root canal schedule this in advance.

Schedule your appointment with the dentist before you travel to avoid a dental emergency.

why you should visit the dentist before you travel

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