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Field-tested travel tip: The acci-dental tourist

Seeking Emergency Dental Care on Vacation

Dr. Marco Capitonio handles dental emergencies in Turin, Italy. And he speaks fluent English!
Dr. Marco Capitonio handles dental emergencies in Turin, Italy. And he speaks fluent English!Read moreLarissa Milne (custom credit)

We’ve written in the past about seeking help for medical emergencies while away from home. Dental issues can occur as well, and this year Michael got to learn about addressing them in not one but three (!) countries. His tale is one of poor choices made and how to overcome the eventual consequences of those choices.

His year of dental woes began in the winter in Arizona with an infected tooth that required a root canal. He had that procedure and was supposed to follow up with getting a crown on the tooth, which he never got around to because we were driving across the country before heading overseas.

Big mistake.

Fast forward to June: We were in Edinburgh, Scotland, and that crownless stub of a tooth cracked. We were in the country for a week but would then be traveling through Europe on a series of short stays, so it was important to have this addressed before we moved on. Michael scrambled to find a dentist in a foreign land. A Google search of “emergency dental care Edinburgh” yielded Frederick Street Dental, which advertised same-day emergency appointments 365 days a year. Michael saw a dentist that day, who determined that the tooth needed to be removed and did so. Seeking an emergency dentist was the key to getting this resolved.

Fast-forward again. Two months later, upon arrival in Italy on a Friday in late August, while munching a granola bar at the airport’s car rental counter, Michael cracked the tooth adjacent to the one that had just been pulled. Back to Google, this time seeking “English-speaking emergency dentist” in Turin.

Now we were dealing with a language barrier plus a popular vacation time. All three dentists listed were closed for vacation, so we left messages and hoped for a callback. Fortunately, Dr. Marco Capitonio had his calls forwarded to his cell phone and called us that night. Michael spoke with him directly and made an appointment for that Monday.

The dentist made a temporary fix on the tooth so it would hold up for a month until we got back to the United States to get a crown. He even followed up a week later with a text message to see how we were doing.

Michael now needs to get an implant to replace the original tooth that he delayed getting a crown on last winter. If you have a dental emergency while on the road, don’t feel that you must ride it out until you get home. Addressing the situation right away with the internet and diligent follow-through can make the rest of your journey more enjoyable and potentially avoid making the problem worse.

(We don’t have dental insurance and just pay as we go. However, if you do have dental insurance, ask about coverage when you travel; some overseas dentists advertise that they accept plans worldwide.)

Philadelphia natives Larissa and Michael Milne have been global nomads since 2011. Follow their journey at