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Dentistry in the Post Apocalypse

In Canada we take our publicly funded healthcare system for granted, and I admit I am also in favour of adding some level of dentistry to the things covered by OHIP (Ontario's Health Insurance Plan). Not everything should be covered by OHIP, but $880 worth of coverage per year would cover 4 cleanings.

Everything else, x-rays, surgery, dentures, braces, etc would still have to be covered by patients.

However lets pretend for a moment that the apocalypse were to happen. Zombie apocalypse, nuclear apocalypse, economic collapse and chaos, climate change and rising sea levels, etc. It doesn't really matter which version of the apocalypse we are talking about.

The problem that then exists in this new post apocalyptic world is how do people take care of themselves in terms of healthcare?

And in the case of this post, specifically dental care which effects us constantly as we really should be cleaning our teeth daily.

Four years ago in October I wrote a post titled: "DIY Dental Care??? Crazy or Feasible???"

In the post I mentioned a number of things.

  1. I really like my dentist. Archer Dental offers the best dental services that money can buy in Toronto. It cannot be beat.
  2. DIY Dentistry is basically crazy and involves putting fibreglass and epoxy in your mouth like some deranged lunatic.
  3. If you have the option to pay the best dentist in Toronto to work on your teeth as opposed to sticking fibreglass and epoxy in your mouth, you should definitely choose the dentist.
  4. Good luck wearing the wooden dentures because that might be your best option if you start experimenting on your teeth.

What if there is no dentist?

During the Post Apocalypse you probably won't have a dentist available unless you manage to find a large community of survivors who are lucky enough to have a dentist (and hopefully a doctor too).

So in our What If Scenario we face the real problem of what to do in the event that there is no dentist available.

Well, here is what you need to do:

#1. Stockpile Dental and Medical Supplies

You should be stockpiling the following items:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Dental Equipment (in hope that you eventually find a dentist)
  • First Aid Kits
  • Bandages
  • Painkillers / anti-inflammatories
  • Antibiotics
  • Insulin
  • Needles
  • Everything you could possibly hope to find in an old fashioned medical doctor's bag
  • Anything else you can think of. eg. epipens, allergy pills, etc.
It is also possible to clean your teeth using salt water (brine), and likewise baking soda can be used as an alternative to toothpaste. But you still need a toothbrush at least. Mix the baking soda with something acidic (eg. apple juice or lemon juice) and then use the resulting paste on your teeth with a toothbrush. For best results, spit out any saliva before using this method.

#2. Preventative Dental Care

You know how your dentist is always telling you to brush your teeth, floss and use mouthwash every day?

You need to actually be doing those things. Every day. Today. Right now if you haven't done so already.

And you should start today, because if you are lazy and don't do it then 2 years from now you could literally be on your way to the dentist when the nukes start flying, and you've got dental problems ALREADY because you were not prepared.

#3. Take the best possible care of your teeth now, BEFORE the apocalypse happens

One more reason why I go to Archer Dental. In the past 4 years I have gone from being very unhappy about my teeth to extremely happy about them.
  • If you are not currently happy with the state of your teeth, you are not prepared for the apocalypse.
  • If you currently have major problems with your teeth, then you are not prepared for the apocalypse.
  • If you are not in the habit of taking care of your teeth daily, then you are not prepared for the apocalypse.
Do you honestly think that if the apocalypse happens you will suddenly remember to take care of your teeth? Probably not.

Are you going to be one of those people chowing down on Twinkies (one of the things that endure for decades) during the post apocalypse? Maybe. If so, you really need to be taking better care of your teeth now.

"A true prepper is prepared for every possibility, including a lack of available dentists."
#4. Find Allies

Family and friends are best, but the loner approach to the Post Apocalypse is not good for your survival chances.

You fall and break your leg, it might not kill you but your chances of starving to death just skyrocketed if you don't have any allies.

Get a tooth that becomes infected and needs to pulled properly? Think you can do it by yourself? Your chances of survival double or triple if you have allies to help you.

Think an infected tooth cannot kill you? Think again. A man in California in January 2017 died from an infected tooth because the infection spread to his blood and his lungs. He thought it was just a toothache, but the autopsy revealed otherwise.

An infected tooth can also cause swelling, which makes it impossible to eat food. The victim literally starves to death.

Bacterial infections of abscess teeth can lead to serious heart, lung, and brain infections if left untreated, all causing death.

And even if you do manage to pull the tooth, who is to say the infection goes away? You really need antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria that is thriving in your empty tooth socket. Simply pulling the tooth isn't necessarily going to solve the problem if you don't also kill the bacteria. You need the extra people around because the more people you have as allies, the more chances there are someone has antibiotics which can help you.

#5. Lone Wolf DIY Dentisty = Good Luck

Seriously, if you end up alone with zero allies, you didn't stockpile any dental supplies, you didn't take preventative measures like brushing your teeth daily, and you didn't take care of your teeth prior to the apocalypse...

Well, then you really and truly are screwed, aren't you?

Hence why I am saying good luck, because you are going to need it.

In case of an infected tooth your best possible solution is to pull the tooth (the whole thing, don't leave any broken pieces of infected tooth behind) and to treat yourself with antibiotics. Oh, but you don't have any allies to make sure you got the whole tooth, and you forgot to stockpile the antibiotics. Whoops! Sucks to be you.

What if you need surgery on your teeth? Are you going to do it yourself with no proper tools? You cannot even see inside your own mouth properly to be doing that. A mirror won't help because your hands will be in the way, preventing you from seeing properly. So your plan then is to perform surgery on yourself, by feel, with zero experience of doing such?

Good luck sewing yourself up after the surgery!

It is one thing to sew stitches on your own leg, but another thing to sew up bloody gum tissue inside your mouth when you cannot even see what you are doing.

In that dire scenario your best bet is to try and find a community of survivors who are friendly to you and will welcome another survivor into the midst. With luck they might have a dentist, a dental hygienist who understands the principles of what needs to be done, or a doctor - or someone with steady hands who is at least willing to try. They might even have painkillers and all the needed medical supplies.

"In the winter the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."

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