I don’t know about you, but I have had my share of dental emergencies, including one major emergency while in the middle of nowhere. Thank goodness I had some clove essential oil to mitigate the pain until I got back to civilization three days later.
In the event of a major disaster or disruptive event, finding dental care from a trained professional may be impossible. First responders are going to be saving lives and not tending to a nagging toothache or even to a broken tooth. For that reason, we need to think about being dentally prepared with the tools and knowledge to get us by during a dental emergency.
Today I welcome back contributing author Joe Alton who shares his wisdom and medical expertise as he coaches us to become better prepared for a dental emergency. In addition, I share my own list of home remedies that will resolve toothache pain.
Over the years, we have written hundreds of articles on medical preparedness for short or long-term disasters. Many now include medical kits and supplies to add to survival food storage and items for personal protection. Yet, few who are otherwise medically prepared seem to devote much time to dental health. Poor dental health can cause issues that affect the work efficiency of members of your group in survival settings. When your people are not at 100% effectiveness, your chances for survival decrease.
History tells us that problems with teeth take up a significant portion of the medic’s patient load. In the Vietnam War, medical personnel noted that fully half of those who reported to daily sick call came with dental complaints. In a long-term survival situation, you certainly will find yourself as dentist as well as nurse or doctor.
Anyone who has had to perform a task while simultaneously dealing with a bad toothache can attest to the effect on the amount and quality of work done. If your teeth hurt badly, it’s unlikely that your mind can concentrate on anything other than the pain. Therefore, it only makes sense that you must learn basic dental hygiene, care, and procedures to keep your people at full work efficiency. It could easily be the difference between success and failure in a collapse.
In normal times, however, you should understand that the practice of dentistry without a license is illegal and punishable by law. Seek modern and standard dental care wherever and whenever it is available.
The Survival Dental Kit
The prepared medic will have included dental supplies in their storage, but what exactly would make sense in austere settings? You would want the kit to be portable, so dentist chairs and other heavy equipment wouldn’t be practical. You would want it to be easily distinguished from the medical kit.
We’ve mentioned that gloves for medical and dental purposes are one item that you should have in quantity. Don’t ever stick your bare hands in someone’s mouth. Buy hypoallergenic nitrile gloves instead of latex. For additional protection, masks should also be stored and worn by the medic.
We’ve researched dental items that should be in the dental kit of those that would be medically responsible in a long-term survival community. After consulting with a number of preparedness-minded dentists, we have put together what we believe will be a reasonable kit that can handle a number of dental issues.
Items that would be practical for the survival “dentist” include:
• Dental floss, dental picks, toothbrushes, toothpaste or baking soda.
• Dental or orthodontic wax as used for braces. Wax can be used to splint a loose tooth to its neighbors.
• A Rubber bite block to keep the mouth open. This provides good visualization and protection from getting bitten. A large eraser would serve the purpose.
• Cotton pellets, Cotton rolls, Q tips, gauze sponges (cut into small squares).
• Compressed air cans or a bulb syringe for drying up saliva on teeth.
• Commercial temporary filling material, such as Tempanol, Cavit, or Den-temp.
• Oil of cloves (eugenol), a natural anesthetic. Often found in commercial preparations such as:
Red Cross Toothache Medicine (85% eugenol)
Dent’s Toothache Drops (benzocaine in combo with eugenol)
It’s important to know that eugenol might burn the tongue, so be careful when touching anything but teeth with it.