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A variety of dental problems can come up when traveling or even at home. The most common dental problem is trauma to the mouth or teeth. This can occur with blunt injury to the face or mouth, and teeth can become displaced, dislodged or knocked out completely. Sometimes, people also get infections of the gums and teeth. Dental or tooth abscess occurs when a buildup of pus from the infection forms inside the teeth or gums. This can be very painful and make it difficult to chew food and you may notice swelling and redness inside the mouth or on the cheeks. More severe infections of the tooth or gums can progress deeper in the mouth and extend to the bones of the face and jaw, or even extend to deep inside the neck or into the brain – this is a life-threatening medical emergency and you must seek immediate medical care.


If you lose a tooth due to traumatic injury and you still have the tooth, it is best to replace the tooth in the socket and seek help immediately. If you are unable to find the tooth, dental filling can be used in an emergency to temporarily treat a lost tooth. If you notice pain, swelling or pus coming from a tooth, this could be a dental abscess – this kind of infection needs to be treated with an antibiotic. Consider taking amoxicillin-clavulanate until you are able to see an emergency dentist. Note that most emergency rooms do not have dentists on call.

When To Worry

Seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:

Quick Guide

If you have

  • mild tooth or mouth pain
  • no pus coming from tooth
  • no swelling or fever

You may have


Consider using

ibuprofen 600 mg every 6 hours as needed for pain OR

acetaminophen 1000 mg every 6-8 hours as needed for pain (do not exceed 3000 mg per day)

dental anesthetic topically to the affected area

If you have

  • severe, persistent tooth or mouth pain and swelling
  • pus coming from tooth

You may have

dental abscess

Consider using

amoxicillin-clavulanate 875 mg-125mg twice daily for 7 days

AND seek immediate care from a dentist (your tooth may need to be extracted)

If you have

  • trauma to mouth or tooth
  • loss or displacement of tooth

You may have

dental trauma


replace tooth in socket if you can or apply dental filling and seek immediate medical care

If you have

  • inability to open your jaw due to pain or swelling
  • fever and severe headache with your tooth pain
  • swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to swallow or breathe
  • swelling or tenderness of the entire side of the face, cheek, eyelid or the eye starts to protrude

You may have

facial abscess

You should

seek emergency medical care


Ibuprofen (generic for Motrin, generic for Advil) is a pain reliever and the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ibuprofen is used to treat pain.


Acetaminophen (generic for Tylenol) is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Acetaminophen is used to treat pain.


Dental filling can be used in an emergency to temporarily treat a lost tooth.


Dental anesthetic can be used in an emergency to treat dental pain.


Amoxicillin-clavulanate (generic for Augmentin) is an antibiotic. It can be used to treat skin infections like bite wounds, ear infections, sinus infections, tooth infections, and other infections. This medication should be taken with food.


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