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When planning a trip abroad, there are countless things that you need to think of. They may use a different currency out there, or speak another language, or both! They could drive on the other side of the road, and have different laws about when and where an individual is allowed to buy and drink alcohol. In some cases, there will be strict rules on dress and behaviour too. These sorts of things are easy to plan for, and when you arrive at your vacation destination, you feel completely prepared. But often, you’re not, because if you experienced a dental emergency right now, what would you do? Where would you go? Would you know who would help you?

Thankfully dental emergencies are not that common, but it is vital to know what to do when you are abroad to ensure that you do not suffer too much damage because you were not seen to quickly enough. The first thing to consider is getting health insurance that includes dental specifically for travelling abroad. Double checking that your policy includes dental is something often ignored, but if you do check and it is not included, it is definitely worth speaking to your insurance provider and seeing whether they could include it on there, in writing.

Depending on what country you are going to, you may find that your country has a political agreement with them to treat any visiting guests within their own hospital system. This would be an excellent way to receive treatment quickly and efficiently, and without too much complication either. You can get in touch with your local government authority where you are, and ask them about the location that you are going to, and they should be able to tell you what sort of agreements have been made, and whether you would be able to receive the same level of healthcare there that you would at home.

Thirdly, prevention is better than cure, and this is just as true when you are abroad as when you are at home. If you are going to be taking part in some highly physically activity, then please make sure that you are wearing a gum shield, or other kind of protection for your teeth. The number one cause of dental emergencies, in almost every country, is a physical altercation (whether violent or within sports), and this can lead to chipped teeth, knocked out teeth, badly damaged gums, and even a broken jaw. All of these problems can be very serious, and should be treated seriously. By protecting your teeth if you know that you are going to be playing sports or being very physical when you are away from home, you should be able to pre-empt that sort of problem.

We spoke to Dr Paige Woods, a respected dental practice owner and emergency dentist based in San Diego, about what recommendations she would give to her patients who were travelling abroad. Her advice boiled down to being careful about what you did, and always knowing the number of the emergency services wherever you are. 999 in the UK, 911 in the USA, 112 in France . . . every country has their own, and it is vital that you ensure that you know what your local one is so that, if push comes to shove, you will be able to contact medical personnel within seconds.

Making sure that you look after yourself on holiday, and your teeth, is something that on a day to day basis you probably won’t have to think about but if you are well prepared, then all you need to do is enjoy yourself.

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