The problem with dental emergencies is that they aren’t particularly forgiving when it comes to their arrival. Dental emergencies can put a real crimp in your day at the best of times – things become infinitely more complicated when travelling away from home.
With millions of households taking tens of millions of trips every year, it’s inevitable that many thousands will experience dental emergencies abroad. Even with all the care in the world, you can’t predict or plan for the unexpected. Pack your travel electric toothbrush and cordless water flosser by all means, but accidents can and do happen!
The question being – what should you do if you face a dental emergency abroad?
Truth is, unexpected dental issues abroad don’t have to be nearly as scary as they sound. Assuming you’re traveling to at least a semi-developed part of the world, it’s not as if you won’t be able to gain access to the assistance you need. Nevertheless, the way you go about the process can have a big impact on the overall outcome.
So with this in mind, what follows is a rundown of just a few simple yet important tips on how to deal with dental emergencies abroad:
Get Treatment Quickly
First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that you deal with the problem as quickly as possible. Irrespective of the nature and severity of the problem, it’s always better to get things sorted at the earliest realistic juncture. This is particularly true in instances where you find yourself in considerable pain – why prolong your suffering any more than necessary?
Try to remember that even if you don’t necessarily entrust the first dentist you see with addressing the problem, they may at least be able to provide their advice and support. Or prescribe medication to help ease the pain in the meantime. Rushing things isn’t advisable (see the point below), but at the same time nor is delaying things longer than necessary.
Do your Homework
Just as is the case here in the UK, it’s quick and easy to establish the reputation or otherwise of most dentists in most developed towns and cities. Simply carry out a quick web search and see what’s been said about the dentists in the vicinity. If you can’t understand the reviews and recommendations, use Google translate.
More often than not, all you need to do is hammer the name of the dentist into Google and you’ll find plenty of information to help guide your decision. Whatever you find, be sure to combine it with the information you obtain with the next tip.
Seek Local Recommendations
While it may feel like it at the time, it’s unlikely you’re the only person in your position to have ever faced this kind of crisis. Particularly when it comes to be easier and more popular tourist destinations, dental emergencies really are an everyday occurrence. In which case, it should be pretty simple to seek local recommendations from hotel staff, local pharmacists, even tourist information may be able to help you.
Once again, you’ll need to ensure you combine this information with the reviews and recommendations you find online, just to ensure you aren’t being sold a proverbial red herring. Nevertheless, if you’re in a reasonably popular and developed tourist destination, you’ll probably find the whole thing so much easier than you expect.
Call Your Dentist
If in any doubt as to what you should be doing or when you should be doing it, don’t forget you can always call your dentist – or another dentist you know you can trust – back in the UK. Once again, it may feel as if you’re the only person to go through this rather unfortunate issue, but you aren’t. It happens all the time, so don’t be afraid to call your dentist for advice if needed.
They probably won’t be able to point you in the direction of a specific foreign dentist, but could certainly provide you with useful advice in the meantime.
Insist on Concrete Quotes Up Front
If you require any work more intensive than a quick polish, it’s important that you insist on concrete quotes up front and on paper. While it doesn’t happen particularly often these days, some international dentists prey on foreign visitors and charge them whatever number comes into their mind. The problem being that when the work has already been done, it’s not as if you can refuse to pay or hand back/refuse their services.
Be as blunt as necessary when it comes to requesting quotes and make it abundantly clear that you will not be paying a penny above the price quoted. If you feel you are being extorted at any time, contact the local police.
Know When to Walk Away
If you find yourself dealing with a dentist you simply do not trust for any reason whatsoever, walk away. Whichever way you look at it, quality standards vary significantly from one dentist to the next – particularly when factoring in overseas dentists. Some may be among the finest dentists in the world, while others are probably best avoided.
Just like at home, you are under no obligation to go ahead with any treatment whatsoever until you are 100% confident in the dentist in question. If they don’t have your full trust and confidence, walk away and don’t look back.
Keep Your Receipts
Last but not least, assuming you have any kind of travel insurance whatsoever – which you should have – ask for full receipts and hold onto them. This is particularly important if you undergo any extensive or expensive dental work, as you’ll need them to claim a refund from your insurer. Fail to get the receipts at the time and you may find it impossible to retrieve them later on.
While on that point, it’s also worth seeing the extent to which you are covered for dental emergencies abroad. After all, if you’ve taken out a particularly luxurious insurance policy, you may as well go to the best dentist money can buy and insist on premium treatment from start to finish!