Despite SHTF, you’ll still have teeth.
When it comes to preparing, we think instantly about the more obvious items we need on a daily basis – like food, water, shelter, first aid, and security. We may also have been dreaming of adding a few extra toothbrushes and extra toothpaste into our preps. It is good, but what about a real dental emergency? When society collapses, our teeth still need good treatment, and we are still plagued with cavities.
Although having good teeth and gums isn’t one of our first considerations in a SHTF situation, being prepared to take care of our oral health is extremely necessary because we may not have access to a dentist. A simple abscessed tooth will kill a person, thus you need the right supplies to deal with not only the maintenance of general dental health, but also what you need for emergency dental treatment.
Start with a Healthy Mouth
Although we hope the fall of civilization is a long way off, we also know there may be an emergency situation at any moment. A solar flare could cause an EMP without warning which could wipe out our power grid. One of the very best things you can do for your plans is to make sure your dental treatment is up-to date and that of your family.
Make sure you have had your daily dental check-ups, and any problems have been discussed. If possible, get old fillings replaced to make sure you’re cavity-free and that your gums are in good shape. Being careful now will save you trouble in the future, whether the SHTF is involved or not. Also, bear in mind that you can never substitute your dentist’s advice or treatment with the following advice.
What to Stock
The first thing most of us remember is to store the supplies required for daily dental hygiene while planning. We are stocking up on the things we need for regular dental treatment and that is smart. Gather as much as you can from this:
- Toothbrushes (soft-bristled)
- Tongue scraper
- Dental floss
Apart from the day-to-day care of cleaning your teeth and mouth, you need to think about the problems that can arise, particularly over a long time. Even with frequent brushing and flossing, cavities can occur, particularly when we are undernourished, which can occur in an extended SHTF scenario. You will need the right equipment and know-how to inspect your teeth and take care of emergency dental emergencies. Here are some supplementary things you can stock up on:
- A good book or resource outlining dental procedures
- Dental mirrors
- Dental picks
- Dental surgical tools (at least one full set)
- Cotton balls
- Gauze pads
- Instant ice packs
- Temporary cap filler
- Tea bags (you’ll see why below)
- An oral pain reliever, such as Orabase (with Benzocaine)
- Clove oil (an antimicrobial used for toothaches)
- Salt (rinsing with salt water keeps the mouth clean and helps heal wounds)
- Suture thread
- Suture needles
In addition to these items, you should also have a good supply of:
- Pain killers, such as acetaminophen
- Antibiotics (The Only 4 Antibiotics You’ll Need when SHTF)
- 3% hydrogen peroxide
Possible Dental Emergencies
Too many forms of dental emergencies may arise, whether these are due to poor dental health or mouth injury. Having said that, there are a few more common dental problems than others. The most common is toothache, something that’s a red flag for a problem that’s only going to get more serious. A toothache is a sign that a chip has been badly decayed.
If anyone has a toothache, at the very least you need to be able to keep the discomfort at bay and keep the teeth clean by carefully removing any food or other substance from the cavity, flush it with warm water (preferably salt water), and cover it with a piece of cotton soaked in clove oil. When dental care is available, then get dental care as soon as possible.
Sadly, if the emergency is prolonged, dental treatment may not be an option. As a prepper, if you can build the learning skills to find and fill a cavity, you’ll be holding so many more problems at bay. This also doesn’t hurt learning how to extract a tooth if need be.
A variety of other dental emergencies will pop up. Where available, these usually require emergency dental care, but you need to be prepared in case there is no dentist to find. Among these most common emergencies are:
- Swollen jaw: Generally due to an abscessed tooth. The tooth needs a root canal or to be pulled.
- Bleeding that is difficult to stop after a tooth extraction: This is where the tea bag comes in. Put the tea bag where the tooth came out and ensure the person bites down on it gently for at least 30 minutes. The tannic acids in the tea will help stop the bleeding.
- Teething: This is an issue with young children who have teeth erupting and older children who have a loose tooth. The only thing to do is provide a painkiller if possible. You can also use clove oil for relief. For teenagers, an impacted wisdom tooth can also be a problem and needs the care of a professional.
- Injury: Mouth injury can come with a simple split lip or it can be as severe as a broken jaw. Most injuries can be dealt with quickly by simply stopping the bleeding and relieving the pain. When a tooth has been chipped or lost, dental treatment is then needed. If there is none, then the damage will be permanent, when a fractured jaw does exist. Ensure that the teeth are in alignment and put a piece of material under the jaw and over the head and tie it together to protect the jaw. Get to a doctor as soon as possible.
Herbal and Natural Treatments
Part of a successful prepping is understanding what natural and herbal remedies are available to protect overall health, and this often applies to dental health. When SHTF condition is permanent or persists for several weeks or months, then you need to learn the options you should use when you run out of toothbrushes, toothpaste, or floss, or if you have a dental emergency. Here are some final pieces of knowledge that might support your dental treatment as society collapses:
- You can use a willow twig or a twig from a similar tree as a toothbrush
- Salt and baking soda make a perfect alternative to toothpaste
- Salt water, 3% hydrogen with an equal amount of water, or 10-20 drops essential oils (peppermint, cinnamon, etc.) and water all make a good mouthwash
- Fishing line, thread, or embroidery floss can replace dental floss
- Oil pulling is fabulous for oral health – a tablespoon of oil (sesame, coconut, sunflower – stock at least one of these) put in the mouth and gently pulled around and between the teeth for 15-20 minutes each morning before eating or drinking, then spit it out and rinse the mouth out afterward.
- Dried horsetail has been identified as a herbal remedy for tooth decay and can be safely eaten or taken with water
Related: The Health Benefits of Prickly Ash
Take your oral health seriously while planning for the worst. You never know what’s going to happen, and whether a dentist can be found. If you know how to look after your own dental health and have the right tools for the job, you will rest easier knowing your teeth are safe.