How to Deal with Overseas Dental Emergencies

This post was originally published on E.G. Moore Travel Blog. It has been modified and posted here with permission.

You’ve been planning this trip for quite some time and are finally on your way. Your plane touches down, you check into your lodging, and head out to explore. Suddenly, the unexpected happens, and the next thing you know, your mouth is in crisis.

Oral-based emergencies can take different forms, from growing abscesses, to accidents and injuries. When something arises and you’re not in your home country, it can be ten times scarier than your fear of the needle to consider a foreign someone working on your teeth. Thankfully, dentistry is a worldwide, well-practiced profession.

Plan Ahead…Just in Case

Depending on where your destination is, it may be wise to consider health and dental providers prior to leaving in case of an emergency. It can be a lot harder to research options when you are in mind-bending pain.

Different countries may or may not have certain associations overseeing the training and technology used by their dentists. Furthermore, foreign dental offices are often privately owned and operated. It may be difficult to determine a dentist’s skills, required procedures within the area, and devices or technology that will be used.

Be Bold…Ask your Questions

In the case of an emergency, be bold and blunt if necessary to ensure you feel comfortable with them caring for your mouth. Communicate with the staff and make sure you fully understand the procedure.

Be sure to ask about infection control. This includes inquiring whether new gloves and needles are used for each patient, whether instruments are sterilized with a heat oven, and how water is sanitized. Also ask about complication tactics, should things not go according to plan. The more knowledge you have, the better.

Take Heart…Foreign Dentistry is Cheaper

Although dental disasters and choosing the right person to handle them can be stressful, there is a silver lining. Due to the difference in technology and training, your bill for the dilemma will be considerably less than you would have spent back home (in the US or UK.) For example, getting crowns or caps in Costa Rica is half the cost of the exact same procedure, with identical technology (Source:, as it is in the US or UK.


What to do in a dental emergency.


Keep Records…and get a Receipt

Once the emergency has been taken care of and you’re about to leave to somewhere luxurious to relax with pain killers and ice, make sure you get all the paperwork you’ll possibly need. This should include medical records updated with this particular procedure, a receipt for the job done, and something with all the information on which devices or materials were used. That way, if you need to see your Arlington provider when you get home, you’ve got everything you need.

Heal Well…Take your Time

Lastly, depending on when the emergency happened within your expected travel plans, you might consider staying a bit longer, to ensure that healing is nearly complete before you leave. Most travel accommodations increase the risk of treatment complications by limiting body shifting. Being able move your body or face regularly is vital to recovery, but is limited on planes, trains, and cars.

Additionally, the comforts of home have been shown to speed up recovery times for major health issues, so being away will slow down your immunities and compromise recovery. Having another check up by the same dentist can be in your best interest. Consider extending your stay if necessary.

Having something go horribly wrong for your mouth while you’re away from home is quite the ordeal. However, knowing how to approach it can make the entire situation much less terrifying. With the information above, you can feel confident that when the unexpected happens and your teeth suffer the consequences, you will know exactly what to do about it.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.

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