When you’re thinking about prepping for a true SHTF scenario, being prepared to deal with dental issues and emergencies is probably low down on your list of priorities and can be easily overlooked. I also believe that it is a very important part of anyone’s preparedness plan as a bad toothache, dental abscess, or broken tooth can really make eating and life in general very difficult. Preparing for dental emergencies doesn’t have to be difficult and I’m going to guide you through everything you should consider for this process.
The number one priority with dental prepping is prevention. Regular dental cleanings, a good diet, and taking care of problems before they become emergencies are all very important things to consider. If your oral health is good, it is less likely you’ll have a dental emergency when professional care is unavailable.
Diet – Avoid sugar in your diet as much as you can. This will not only help your dental health, but also your overall health. Many of the chronic medical issues in the world today are directly related to over consumption of sugar. If you do eat sugar, try to eat it in one sitting vs spreading it out over a longer period of time. In terms of dental health, it is more about how often you are consuming sugar than how much sugar you are consuming. Especially avoid sugary drinks.
Grinding – If you grind your teeth, get a night-guard. This will protect your teeth from unnatural amounts of wear and tear. You don’t want a broken tooth in a grid down situation. You can use our guide on homemade nightguards, have one made by a dentist, or order one from an online dental lab.
Oral Hygiene – Brush well twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day. This will protect you from periodontal disease and cavities. Again, in a situation without a dentist, you don’t want loose teeth or infections!
Some of the supplies you’ll need for dental preparedness are also supplies you’ll likely have prepped for medical emergencies. I’ve tried to include a comprehensive list of items that I recommend stocking in case of emergencies.
Gauze – 2×2 gauze is adequate for most dental applications.
Isopropyl alcohol and bleach – These will be important for sterilizing any dental instruments you end up needing.
Extra toothbrushes and toothpaste – Toothbrushes wear out over time so you’ll want a stock of them on hand. They’re cheap, especially in bulk. Get soft bristled ones.
Temporary filling and cement material – Many drug stores sell this material. One of the most common is Temparin. You can use it to patch holes in teeth or temporarily recement crowns that have come off.
Dental cleaning equipment – Keeping your teeth clean will help avoid future problems.
Suture kit (including sutures, scissors, and hemostats)- Sutures for most dental uses are 3-0 chromic gut (will dissolve on their own) or silk (have to be removed). Also, I’d recommend watching videos on basic suturing techniques so that you can do it in an emergency situation.
Antibiotics – You can purchase “fish” antibiotics that are the exact same ingredient and dosage as what you’d find at the pharmacy. I’d recommend stocking Amoxicillin, Clindamycin (for people allergic to penicillin), and Azithromycin (for infections that don’t respond to the first two). These will take care of most standard dental infections. For specific brands please visit doomandbloom.net for recommendations. He is a medical doctor who has an emphasis on survival medicine. These are the recommended dosages and courses for an adult…
Amoxicillin – 500 mg three times a day for 7 days
Clindamycin – 300 mg three times a day for 7 days
Azithromycin – 250 mg, two on the first day and one a day on days 2-5.
Pain medications – Stockpile a good amount of Ibuprofen and Tylenol. Ibuprofen is the most effective over the counter medication for dental pain. You’ll want to take 600-800 mg every 6 hours for moderate to severe pain. If you can’t take Ibuprofen, consider taking Tylenol instead. You can take 1000 mg every 6 hours for short periods of time.
Extraction instruments – A minimal set of instruments for dental extractions would be a 301 elevator and 150 and 151 dental extraction forceps. You can purchase these from multiple sellers on Ebay without any issues.
Spoon excavator instrument – You can find this on Ebay as well.
If you’d like an all in one kit, I’d recommend looking at the Survival Deluxe Dental kit from doomandbloom.net.
Emergency Dental Care
*For more in depth information on dealing with dental emergencies and pain see our other pages in this section. *
In a situation where seeing a dentist is out of the question your options for emergency dental care are pretty limited. In some situations you’ll be able to patch the area but if you are having significant pain your best option for immediate treatment is going to be pulling the offending tooth. Before we get to that, let’s take a look at some of our easier fixes…
Broken teeth – If the tooth is broken but doesn’t have any pain or soft decay that you can see, you can attempt to repair the area with the temporary filling material. Place the material into the hole in your tooth, bite up and down a couple of times, and then allow it to set up. It will be a challenge to get the material to stay in place so you’ll want to take it pretty easy eating in that area.
If the tooth does have some soft decayed areas, attempt to remove as much of the softened area as possible with the spoon excavator and then place the temporary filling material in place.
Crown off – If you have a crown off you can try recementing into place. See my guide on temporarily recementing crowns here.
Swelling around a tooth or that can be seen on your cheek or lower jaw – You’ll want to start a course of antibiotics to reduce the infection. If you expect that you’ll be able to see a dentist in the relatively near future this will be fine. If there is no foreseeable chance of seeing a dentist, you’ll likely want to pull the offending tooth.
How to Pull a Tooth
**I do not recommend trying this unless you are in a situation in which there are no other options**
Without being numb, having a tooth pulled is an exquisitely painful experience. I’d recommend taking Ibuprofen before hand and possibly drinking some alcohol to numb the pain. It is also much easier if someone else does it and not you.
Sterilize the instruments in either isopropyl alcohol or a bleach solution. The last thing you want in a situation like this is to develop an infection from dirty instruments.
Take the 301 elevator and slide it in between the teeth. You’ll want to twist the elevator towards the tooth you want to extract. There should be a decent amount of pressure. You’ll want to hold this pressure for about 10 seconds and then repeat on both sides of the tooth until you start to see some movement of the tooth.
Once the tooth has some pretty good movement you’ll want to grab your forceps (150 for top teeth and 151 for bottom teeth) and get a good grip on the tooth as far down the tooth as you can. For front teeth you can generally just twist back and forth until it loosens up and comes out. Back teeth will be much more challenging. Move the forceps around in a figure 8 direction until the tooth becomes loose. You’ll want to pull the tooth towards the cheek side in order to remove it. The bone on this side of the tooth is less dense and will slowly expand until you can get the tooth out.
Once the tooth is out place a couple of pieces of gauze over the area where the tooth came out and bite down on it with good pressure for about 10 minutes. This is adequate to stop the bleeding in the vast majority of people. The only time you’d want to place stitches would be if you can’t get the bleeding under control.
Hopefully you’ll never be in a situation where it comes to this but it can be an extremely useful skill to have just in case.