Heading out on a long hike or camping trip means being prepared for basic health concerns or medical emergencies. This includes dental health, from the basic hygiene to the severe problem. The following tips can help you prepare to care properly for your teeth when you are away from civilization.
Tip #1: Brush Without Trace
Leave no trace guidelines (LNT) define best practices for back country behavior that won't have a negative impact on nature. Toothpaste and floss can pose an LNT problem. Toothpaste can sicken small animals that try to eat it. You have two options to avoid this - brush thoroughly without paste, or dig a hole well off trail and spit into the hole. Fill in the hole when you are done. Remember -- the odor of toothpaste can attract animals, so keep it and your toothbrush in your food bag, which must be hung away from camp in bear country. Floss is simpler -- just make sure you pack it out with your trash.
Tip #2: Pack For Minor Emergencies
A minor toothache isn't usually a big concern, but it can be uncomfortable. Keep a few dental items in your first aid kit:
- Gauze. Biting on gauze stops bleeding from and injury in your mouth.
- Numbing agent. Numbing creams or clove oil can provide instant relief for tooth or gum pain.
- Pain reliever. Ibuprofen or similar medicine reduces swelling and relieves pain.
- Dental wax. This is an all-purpose fix - it can be used to cover the site of a lost filling, can provide temporary glue for a crown, or be used to smooth the sharp edge of a broken tooth.
Tip #3: Dealing With Damage
If something does happen, don't panic. If a tooth is broken or knocked out, try and save the broken tooth or chip. Place it in a container of water or slide it back into place in your mouth. If you can hike out and get to a dentist, they may be able to re-plant the tooth. Even if you can't hike out, save the tooth. It can be used to make a cast for replacement implants, or a chipped piece can sometimes be bonded back to the tooth.
Tip #4: Handling Lost Crowns and Fillings
You don't want to leave the opening in your tooth exposed. For crowns, try and save it -- your dentist can reaffix it later. You can hold it in place on the tooth with wax or even petroleum jelly. Don't try to replace a filling, though. Instead, cover the tooth with wax or a piece of gauze until you can get to a dentist.
For a local dentist, contact an office such as Pike Dentistry.