Letter Re: Advice on Emergency Dentistry

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I have read and been positively influenced by your novel [“Patriots”]. I am now making provisions for difficult times. Can you recommend any links towards obtaining dentistry kit and basic dental instruction? Mainly interested in being able to perform extraction safely. With Thanks and Sincerity, – Dan-O

JWR Replies: This topic has been covered briefly in the blog, but is important enough that it deserves additional discussion. The most important resource is the book “Where There is No Dentist“, available for free download from the Hesperian Foundation (But I recommend getting a bound hardcopy. Ditto for their book “Where There is No Doctor“. Used copies can often be found on Amazon.com for little more than the cost of postage.) Back in July of 2007, I posted letters from Tip in Las Vegas and from “J” the Dentist, that describe low cost sources for dental instruments. It would also be wise to stock up on other dentistry supplies such as gauze, oil of cloves, and so forth. Unless you are stranded in the back country, I do not recommend that you put in temporary fillings under present day circumstances. If a filling leaks, it could cause an infection. However, in a genuine TEOTWAWKI situation, temporary fillings may be your only alternative to suffice for weeks or even months until you can get to a qualified dentist. For this reason, you should stock up on temporary filling material such as Cimpat, Tempanol, or Cavit. There are also temporary filling materials packaged for the consumer market that contain very small quantities (under brand names such as Dentek and Temparin), but the per-unit cost is relatively high. With those, you are mostly paying for the packaging. Nor do I recommend “do it yourself” extraction, except again in extremis. Without the support of a crown or bridge, the gap left by an extraction can cause a chain reaction, as other teeth shift, to compensate. This can lead to a series of complications.