If you live in a remote area or if you find yourself trying to survive after a catastrophic event, then something as simple as a toothache can get very serious, very fast.
Some of us remember the scene from the movie Castaway. Tom Hanks is stranded on a desert island and has a severe toothache, so he knocks the tooth out with a heavy blow from a rock on the edge of an ice skate. For some, that was the most grueling scene in the film. But it can happen to any of us, particularly if we’re pursuing a distant, wilderness lifestyle or if the worst happens and the normal conventions of everyday life collapse around us.
Is There A Dentist In The House?
A lot of us have experience with medical treatments and first-aid. Perhaps we have family members who are nurses, paramedics or even doctors. But even a doctor can be intimidated by basic off-grid dental care and repairs, and unless you have a relative or friend who is a dental technician, you might be on your own. To make matters worse, even a dentist may have limited capability without some basic tools and materials.
So let’s roll up our sleeves and figure out what and how to handle a dental problem or emergency.
For one, consider getting the book, “When There Is No Dentist” (Murray Dickson). It was written by a missionary who had to improvise solutions in Third World countries, and his advice is well worth considering.
Also, consider acquiring some fundamental dental tools and supplies. I find it very interesting that many people can deal with broken limbs, deep cuts and even suture wounds — but become very squeamish when they have to deal with teeth.
Teeth are strange. They’re protruding bones made of calcium surrounded by gums that easily bleed and fester with infection. I’ll take a deep gash in the forearm that needs some stitches over swollen jaws and bleeding teeth any day. But if you’re in a remote or desperate location, it may happen.
What Else You Should Buy
There also are emergency dental kits you can buy. They’re typically found on the Internet and range from simple to complex. They feature a set of dental tools, various materials for repairing teeth, topical anesthetics and sometimes antiseptics and rinses. More advanced kits give you the tools to actually pull teeth — but you definitely want to the consult the book mentioned above before you go that far.
The worst that can happen is an infection or abscess. This will not only cause great pain but can be life-threatening and affect the rest of the body, including the heart. This is a good argument for having some prescription meds like Amoxicillin stockpiled. If you’re without prescription meds, then regular gargling and rinsing with salt-water, OTC antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide in a 50/50 water solution, or with a standard mouthwash might help. There are also herbs like basil and lemon balm that have antibacterial properties, but if the infection is deep, the tooth has to be pulled – and hopefully with something more sophisticated than the blade of an ice skate and a rock.
If you’re currently experiencing some dental problems and don’t have dental insurance, a possible solution is a dental college. They’ll often perform many procedures at a significantly reduced rate and the care is supervised by a dentist or certified dental hygienist. That’s up to you, but if there’s one thing that’s true about most dental problems, it’s that they rarely get better.
One thing this underscores is the continuing care and attention to good dental health. Brush your teeth even if it’s with the old pioneer recipes of crushed sage leaves and charcoal powder or your own homemade version. We always seem to take our teeth for granted, but if you ever find yourself in a very isolated situation with a severe toothache, you may wonder why you didn’t take the time to think twice about good dental health or at least buy a book and some supplies to deal with the event.