Does your household have a survival kit in the case of an emergency? Whether it’s a snow storm, hurricane or some other situation where you lose power or can’t get out to the store, it’s good to have supplies such as candles, lighters, battery-operated radios and canned food. But what about your teeth and gums? And what if you suddenly have a toothache or some sort of dental emergency late at night on a weekend, and you can’t get a dentist appointment until Monday morning? Whether it’s wild weather or an unexpected dental problem, it’s good to have some supplies close at hand as part of your household emergency dental kit.
Why is Dental Care Important in an Emergency?
Of course, you should always have toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss for you and your family, in the event that you’re stuck in the house for a while — and especially if you need to go to an evacuation shelter. But it also makes sense to be able to deal with a loose or lost tooth, cap or filling; an abscess in your mouth or an infection. This isn’t normally what one thinks of when the lights go out, but a situation may develop that can become serious, even life-threatening, if it is left to fester. An infection that begins in the gums and under the teeth can spread to tissue, bone and then throughout the entire body. One’s dental hygiene may be further compromised in an extended disaster if there is poor nutrition and a deficiency in certain vitamins. However, with some simple planning and preparation, you can avoid that risk. Here are some basic items that will help keep the dental patient comfortable while preventing a more serious condition.
What Should Be in an Emergency Dental Kit?
Your neighborhood pharmacy will likely have an inexpensive lost filling repair kit, or you can order one online. They’re easy to use and let you apply a filling temporarily plus pain medication to a tooth that has become sensitive. Depending upon your needs, you might also look for a temporary cap filler. Other items that are good to have in your emergency dental kit include:
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss
- Baking soda (a good substitute for toothpaste; also freshens breath)
- Fluoride rinse (smaller travel sizes are available)
- Cotton gauze pads, cotton balls
- Teething pain reliever or oral gel
- Pain reliever (NSAID)
- Salt (useful for rinsing)
- Ice packs (that can be used instantly)
- Head lamp or penlight, battery operated
- Small dental mirror
- Clove oil (relieves toothaches)
Other Resources for your Home Dental Kit
Consider adding an emergency dentistry field guide. Some medical field guides will have a chapter on emergency dentistry, and there are specific books for dental care under challenging conditions such as “Where There Is No Dentist” by Murray Dickson.
Dental Needs: Don’t Forget the Kids, and Grandma/Grandpa
Everyone will have their own special needs in an emergency, and that includes dental needs. Children who are teething or losing baby teeth and growing permanent teeth may need their own supplies, such as teething devices and children’s pain medicine. Those who wear dentures may need special items as well. Remember the old Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared!