Preparing for Dental Emergencies at Sea

Dental emergencies can happen at any time—even when hundreds of nautical miles separate you from home and your local dentist. More than just an inconvenience, they can be painful, stressful, and, at times, a danger to your health.

Did you know that most dental emergencies occurring most frequently on the water range from dental abscesses and tooth decay to dental fractures all of which can be problematic with no special equipment or your own dentist on board.

What’s more, recreational scuba divers may experience dental pain during a dive due to barodontalgia, also known as tooth squeeze, an acute toothache caused by the increase in pressure underwater. Snorklers can also experience jaw and dental pain caused by clenching the snorkel mouthpiece too tightly.

So what can you do to prevent and manage dental emergencies at sea?

Make Prevention a Priority

A major cause of dental emergencies at sea stems from the fact that most people fail to receive proper dental care before setting off. In fact, most dental problems could be avoided by a pre-trip checkup with your dentist.

Divers can avoid jaw pain by not biting down on the mouth piece with force during the dive. Putting excessive force on your teeth and jaw for an extended period will cause pain. Loosen up your jaw when diving and snorkelling.

Pack an Emergency Dental First Aid Kit

Even after taking the proper precautions by visiting your dentist pre-departure, you may still experience a dental emergency on board. All yachties should have an easily-accessible first aid kit but should also include a dental emergency kit. Remember to carry Your dentist’s contact information in case you need advice or a referral.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene While On Board

Just because you’re sailing or cruising doesn’t mean you get a break from your oral hygiene routine. To avoid potential problems, be sure to: Brush and floss regularly to reduce your risk for gum disease and decay while at sea.

Watch Your Diet

Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Limiting sugar in your diet. Staying away from excessively hard and crunchy foods—like popcorn, nuts, ice, and hard candy. Don’t use your teeth as tools!

Learn Basic First Aid for Common Dental Emergencies

From a throbbing toothache or lost filling or crown, to a chipped tooth or an accident that knocks your tooth out, learn how to handle the most common dental dilemmas you may encounter at sea: Toothache, broken or cracked tooth, knocked out tooth, tooth abscess, lost crown, bit tongue or lip. Learn the basics and know when to seek prompt and professional dental care by taking a marine first aid course with Heart Training.

Create a Plan for Dental Emergency Situations

When do-it-yourself measures aren’t working, or you don’t feel comfortable or confident in managing a dental problem on your own, you need to take action. If you’re close to land, go ashore and find the closest medical or dental facility. If landfall is not possible, try calling your dentist. They may be able to help guide you to a temporary fix by phone or until you can get further treatment. If you need immediate attention, know how to access telehealth support while offshore.

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