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When preppers think about all the potential emergencies they need to prepare for, it usually doesn’t occur to them to prepare for dental emergencies. Most people are more worried about earthquakes and hurricanes than about toothaches. But the truth is, a really bad toothache or infection can knock you on your butt. In fact, if left unchecked it can make you extremely ill, even leading to death.
This is why you need to think about the possibility of a dental emergency during a disaster. Think back to the movie “Castaway” when Tom Hanks knocks out his own tooth with an ice skate. Granted, it’s only a movie, but an abscessed tooth can be so painful that many people would rather knock it out than endure the pain any longer. It’s best to make sure you have more dental supplies than a pair of ice skates.
Of course, you can buy a premade dental emergency kit, but these usually only have some temporary filling, cotton balls, and floss in them. You’re much better off putting together your own kit. It’ll cost more money, but at least you’ll have everything you need when there are no dentists available. Here are 15 things you should put in your dental emergency kit.
1. Nitrile Gloves – You never want to put your bare hands in someone’s mouth, especially if there’s a wound or bleeding. Nitrile gloves are preferable to latex because some people have a latex allergy.
2. Temporary Filling – This is used to stabilize a loose tooth as well as cover the hole left from a decaying tooth. This will help keep air from hitting the nerve underneath (which can be very painful) and keep food from getting into the area. You’ll have to periodically reapply until you can get a real filling or the tooth extracted.
3. Orajel – This can help reduce tooth pain by quite a bit. However, it’s not a long term solution. Orajel and similar products an also be used to treat blisters and/or sores inside the mouth. They also make it for babies who are teething.
4. Clove Oil – This is a natural medicine that can be purchased anywhere essential oils are sold. Or you can just buy cloves at the grocery store in the spice section. This potent oil should be applied to a cotton ball which should be placed on the tooth. Don’t swallow it. Place a fresh clove on the area will also work, but it’s best to wrap the cloves in a layer of gauze before applying to the area.
5. Oil of Oregano – Another natural remedy. If you want, you can store this instead of clove oil, or you can store both. This, too, should be applied to a cotton ball which should be placed on the tooth. Like clove oil, it is a natural antibacterial and can help reduce the infection, something that can make a person extremely ill.
6. Cotton Balls, Gauze Pads, and Q-tips – These will all be necessary if a tooth extraction has to be performed. They can also be soaked in various medicines and applied to an abscess, cheek, or gum area.
7. Hydrogen Peroxide – This is an excellent gargling solution that can help clean the teeth and gums. Swishing the peroxide around the mouth after an injury can help disinfect and prevent infection from setting in.
8. Salt – Yes, salt is also an essential part of your dental emergency kit. Tiny particles of food can get caught under a filling or in a cavity, causing serious pain. But rinsing the mouth with warm saltwater can help dislodge the particles and less your toothache.
9. Tarter Scrapers – As the name suggests, these are used to scrape tarter off of teeth. Places like the back molars and behind the front teeth are easy to miss, and tarter buildup can lead to cavities.
10. Elevators – These are basically dental pliers. A tooth that is broken or badly decayed will need to be removed. If that happens, you don’t want to stick a pair of dirty pliers in your mouth or use a rock to knock out a bad tooth. Having the proper tools can make tooth removal much easier.
11. Dental Mirrors – These will allow you to see all the way to the back of the mouth. If you’re performing work on your own mouth, the mirrors will give you a much better idea of what’s going on in there.
12. Bulb Syringe – This will be need should irrigation be required. Filling the syringe with warm saltwater or plain water and squirting it on an achy tooth can help dislodge particles around the gums. Infected gums will be painful, red, and possibly bleeding.
13. Antibiotics – If you have an abscessed tooth, you’ll need to take antibiotics. Dentists usually prescribe amoxicillin or clindamycin, but there are several other options. For people allergic to penicillin, they prescribe clarithromycin.
14. Tea Bags – These serve dual purposes. Placing a teabag on an abscessed tooth will help draw out the infection deep in the tooth. The teabag should be placed directly on the tooth. Laying down and allowing the infection (pus) to drain will reduce swelling and pain as well as reduce the risk of a dangerous infection.
15. Where There Is No Dentist – This book is used as a reference in villages all around the world. It’s over 200 pages of accurate, up-to-date information on how to deal with dental emergencies, along with charts and illustrations. This is a must-have if you don’t have a dentist in your group.
A word of warning: Dental tools such as the tarter scraper and elevator can be dangerous if you have no experience using them. Ideally, you’ll want to put these in the hands of a trained dentist. But if you don’t have one in your group and can’t find one anywhere, you can leave it up to whoever has the most medical experience.
Standard dental hygiene products like toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss and mouthwash should all be used to prevent dental emergencies. Remember, the best cure is prevention. Never let dental care slide, even in a survival situation.