Dental Care after SHTF

Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry March 25, 2016 10:37

Dental Care after SHTF

You’ll Still Have Teeth after SHTF

When it comes to prepping, we immediately think about the more obvious things we will need on a daily basis, such as food, water, shelter, first aid, and security.  We might even have thought to include a few extra toothbrushes and extra toothpaste in our preps.  These are good, but what about a real dental emergency?  When society collapses, our teeth will still need good care and cavities will still plague us.

While having healthy teeth and gums is not one of our first concerns in a SHTF situation, it is incredibly important to be prepared to care for our oral health because we might not have access to a dentist.  One simple abscessed tooth can kill a person, so you need to have the proper supplies required to deal not only with maintaining general dental health, but also what you will need for emergency dental care.

Start with a Healthy Mouth

While we hope the collapse of society is a long way off, we also know that an emergency event could happen at any time.  A solar flare could cause an EMP that could wipe out our power grid without warning.  One of the very best things you can do for your preparations is to ensure that your dental care and that of your family is up-to-date.

Make sure you have had your regular dental checkups and any problems have been dealt with.  Get old fillings replaced if necessary and ensure you are cavity-free and your gums are in good condition.  Being proactive now will save you trouble in the future, whether or not the SHTF.  Also, keep in mind that the following advice should never replace the advice or care of your dentist.

What to Stock

The first thing that most of us consider when prepping is stocking the supplies needed for regular dental hygiene.  We stock up on the things that we need for day-to-day dental care and this is wise.  Gather as much of the following as you can:

  • mouthwashesToothbrushes (soft-bristled)
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Tongue scraper
  • Dental floss
  • Toothpicks

Aside from the daily care of cleaning your teeth and mouth, you need to think of problems that can come up, particularly over an extended period of time.  Even with regular brushing and flossing, cavities can happen, particularly if we become malnourished, which can happen in an extended SHTF scenario.  You will need to have the proper tools and knowledge of how to examine teeth and take care of emergency dental situations.  Here are some additional supplies you should stock up on:


  • A good book or resource outlining dental procedures
  • Dental mirrors
  • Dental picks
  • Dental surgical tools (at least one full set)
  • Headlamp
  • Cotton balls
  • Gauze pads
  • Instant ice packs
  • Temporary cap filler
  • Tea bags (you’ll see why below)
  • An oral pain reliever, such as Orabase (with Benzocaine)
  • Clove oil (an antimicrobial used for toothaches)
  • Salt (rinsing with salt water keeps the mouth clean and helps heal wounds)
  • Suture thread
  • Suture needles

In addition to these items, you should also have a good supply of:

Possible Dental Emergencies

There are so many types of dental emergencies that can arise, whether these stem from poor dental health or injury to the mouth.  Having said this, there are some dental issues that are more common than others.  The most common is a toothache, something that is a red flag for a problem that will only grow more serious.  A toothache is a signal that there is a badly decayed tooth.

When someone has a toothache, at the very least you need to be able to keep the pain at bay and keep the tooth clean by carefully removing any food or other material from the cavity, rinsing it with warm water (preferably salt water), and packing it with a piece of cotton soaked in clove oil.  If there is dental care available, then get it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, if the emergency is prolonged, dental care might not be an option.  As a prepper, if you can develop the skills of learning to identify a cavity and fill it, you will keep so many more problems at bay.  It also doesn’t hurt to know how to pull a tooth when necessary.

There are a number of other dental emergencies that can pop up.  These generally need emergency dental care when available, but you need to be prepared in case there isn’t a dentist to be found.  The most common of these emergencies include:

  • Swollen jaw: Generally due to an abscessed tooth. The tooth needs a root canal or to be pulled.
  • Bleeding that is difficult to stop after a tooth extraction: This is where the tea bag comes in. Put the tea bag where the tooth came out and ensure the person bites down on it gently for at least 30 minutes.  The tannic acids in the tea will help stop the bleeding.
  • Teething: This is an issue with young children who have teeth erupting and older children who have a loose tooth. The only thing to do is provide a painkiller if possible.  You can also use clove oil for relief.  For teenagers, an impacted wisdom tooth can also be a problem and needs the care of a professional.
  • Injury: Injury to the mouth can come in the form of a simple cut lip or can be as bad as a broken jaw. Most injuries can be easily dealt with by simply stopping the bleeding and providing pain relief.  If a tooth is chipped or lost, then dental care is needed.  If none is available, then the damage may be permanent.  If there is a broken jaw. Ensure the teeth are in place and wrap a piece of material underneath the jaw and up over the head and tie it to secure the jaw.  Get to a medical professional as soon as possible.

Herbal and Natural Treatments

Part of good prepping is knowing what natural and herbal remedies there are for maintaining general health and this goes for dental health, as well.  If the SHTF situation is permanent or lasts many weeks or months, then you need to know alternatives that you can use if you run out of toothbrushes, toothpaste, or floss or if you have a dental emergency.  Here are a final few pieces of information that might help with your dental care when society collapses:

  • You can use a willow twig or a twig from a similar tree as a toothbrush
  • Salt and baking soda make a perfect alternative to toothpaste
  • Salt water, 3% hydrogen with an equal amount of water, or 10-20 drops essential oils (peppermint, cinnamon, etc.) and water all make a good mouthwash
  • Fishing line, thread, or embroidery floss can replace dental floss
  • Oil pulling is fabulous for oral health – a tablespoon of oil (sesame, coconut, sunflower – stock at least one of these) put in the mouth and gently pulled around and between the teeth for 15-20 minutes each morning before eating or drinking, then spit it out and rinse the mouth out afterward
  • Dried horsetail has been identified as a herbal remedy for tooth decay and can be safely eaten or taken with water

Related: 30 Most Popular Herbs for Natural Medicine

Take your oral health seriously when prepping for the worst.  You never know what will happen and whether a dentist will be accessible.  If you know how to take care of your own dental health and have the right tools for the job, you will rest easier knowing your teeth are safe.

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Karen Hendry
By Karen Hendry March 25, 2016 10:37
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  1. patr March 26, 14:35

    Thank you for this informative article of often overlooked but vital information. Problems with teeth, if ignored, can create a host of other medical issues, over time.

    A caveat: most of the off-the-shelf toothpaste and mouth rinse products contain FLUORIDE (even if your water supply does not). Fluoride never did and never will have anything to do with strong teeth; it has everything to do with the greed of a few wealthy people post-WW II. Go to “The Fluroide Network” and learn about it.

    Horsetail has medicinal value for sure, but, before you go planting it, do your homework. It is a highly invasive species and, in some areas, you may not be permitted to grow it, because it is so invasive. And very hard to get rid of once established (like kudzu).

    Reply to this comment
    • retired Periodontist March 26, 15:33

      Spry toothpaste with fluoride prevents decay by changing the bacterial flora and by stopping decay. Found on ebay. Patr knows nothing about dentistry. Wealth envy is a terrible burden for people who have made poor decisions in their life.

      Reply to this comment
      • dlbottla November 4, 23:41

        EU outlawed fluoride period, after several large studies showed it did nothing for your teethe and was actually damaging to your brain. It completely shrivels up and kills the part of your brain responsible for dreams and other things. They also believe it is harmful to brain period as well as other organs. Simple fact, it does nothing for your teeth period. Not one study showed any, none, improvement with fluoride. lol… just a money making machine and also, this is part of brain we hear from God, visions, dreams etc… so naturally the evil here wants to kill that lol…

        Reply to this comment
  2. patr March 26, 14:39

    Oh, and BTW – the link on the antibiotics suggests amounts of antibiotic to stockpile most of us (a) can’t get a prescription for; and (b) can’t afford in those quantities anyway. You can buy “fish meds” that are the same pharma drug only you don’t need a prescription. Go to the “Doom and Bloom” website to read about them, or the Survival MD handbook (I’m partial to Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy @ Doom and Bloom). These guys are vets, so I like to do business with them: EXACTLY the same Big Pharma drug you need a prescription for, and a lot less expensive. I use them. I give them to my pets when appropriate.

    Reply to this comment
  3. OldPatriot March 26, 14:57

    I have been looking for information on this topic for quite some time. For all interested parties, I found this “all-in-one” kit and was wondering how well it works.
    The link is here:

    If anyone has used this I would like to know.

    Reply to this comment
  4. left coast chuck March 26, 16:52

    I was stationed with a guy who had the ugliest looking teeth I had ever seen. They were a mottled greenish color. Finally I got up the courage to ask him about his teeth. He laughed and said he knew they looked terrible but he didn’t have a cavity in his mouth and he ate all the candy he wanted. He said the water in his town had a high fluoride content and that no one in his town had ever had a cavity. He didn’t mention any apparent adverse health effects. Too much fluoride is not a good thing as it makes your teeth a mottled green. Just enough does prevent tooth decay and doesn’t make you impotent or crazy or whatever else the anti fluoride folks claim.

    This is a good article, outlining a potentially serious problem and offering solid suggestions to help deal with the problem.

    I seriously burned my face while on a camping trip when I was 16. I didn’t have any first aid supplies with me so I soaked toilet paper in cold tea and applied it to the burn. When I was finally able to get to a doctor he found that the burn had started to heal and I wasn’t going to have any kind of a scar. He said it was the cold tea solution that took the heat out of the burn and the tannic acid in the tea was a bactericide and also helped with the healing. Just plain old cheap Lipton’s black tea is a good first aid backup in a real emergency. Commercial disclaimer: No financial connection with Lipton’s whatsoever. It just happens to be the most economical tea I am aware of.

    When I had a wisdom tooth removed a couple of years ago the oral surgeon recommended soaking a gauze pad in tea and applying it to the wound. I cut out the middle man and just put the wet teabag on the wound. When making tea to drink, the recommended temperature is not a roiling boil but for medicinal purposes I always get the water to a roiling boil for medicinal tea to make sure the bag and its contents are sterile.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Colt March 26, 21:42

    If the patent’s mouth is smashed, and medical care is not readily available, the intense pain (and dental pain is brutal) can be deadened by mixing a solution of 1/2 Maalox liquid and 1/2 Children’s liguid Benadryl. Swish but do NOT swallow. Will numb the mouth.

    Keep both items in your dental kit. They are both non prescription and widely available at Walmart.

    Reply to this comment
  6. ande April 28, 20:02

    Every things sounds great to know, but would like to know the name of a book with dental info. I have looked on line but haven’t found anything yet.

    Reply to this comment
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