Let's imagine you’re a soldier at a bare-bones forward operating base in Afghanistan living off of Snickers bars for several months -- and your teeth aren’t too happy about it. A filling falls out. What do you do?
Your local dentist from Anytown, USA, doesn’t make house calls out to the war zone, but just because you’re out there doesn’t mean you don't need him.
Meet Dentist in A Box, the dental emergency kit for the soldier in the field. For basic everyday dental emergencies, this Australian company has created a re-sealable plastic kit approximately the size of a CD (6.3 inches by 5.9 inches) that weighs about an ounce and a half. It can be used for a broken tooth, lost filling or even irritation caused by a sharp tooth edge or orthodontic wire. With The Dentist in a Box Basic Dental Kit, a soldier can tackle these problems with a temporary fix until he can get to a dentist.
Although designed by a dentist, the instructions in the kit aren't written in dentist-ese -- they can transform the average person without dental or medical knowledge into a hero on the basic dental emergency front. Between the step by step illustrated instructions, Dentist in A Box makes dental first aid pretty idiot-proof.
Basically, you rinse your mouth and your teeth before squeezing the stuff out of a tube as though it were toothpaste, and applying it where needed. Once out of the tube, it slowly starts to harden. After it has been opened, the tube will still be useable for about six months.
The kit provides temporary material, of course, so it doesn't require the precisely mixed concoctions you might see in the dentist's office. Given that this filling is temporary, it will wear away -- but you can continue to plug some new material into the problem until you can get to the dentist. In addition to this temporary filling material, the kit contains a mouth mirror and sterile applicators.
So what about big-time dental dramas? The teeth loosened or knocked out?
Dentist in A Box, the Tooth Trauma Care edition, has a solution for the soldier on this front as well. Research shows that delay in taking initial steps can reduce the likelihood of saving an injured tooth, so it's key to have the kit on hand to immediately address a problem until the solider can get to a dentist.
To splint a permanent tooth, this kit also includes an "irrigant" (that's a fluid used to irrigate cavities, of course), disposable glove and tooth-splinting material. They include an expiration date on the kit so you’ve got confidence you’re not putting some ancient splinting material in your mouth.
Used by the Australian Defense Forces, this Tooth Trauma Care version is the same size and still very light, weighing a bit more at 2.2 ounces. Given its utility it has been taken up beyond the military from commercial maritime vessels and mining and exploration companies through to sport.
Dentist in a Box: handy for the soldier in a remote area as well as for the families, schools and people who play sports back on home soil.
Just don't try to tackle that open heart surgery on your own.
Ballet dancer turned defense specialist Allison Barrie has travelled around the world covering the military, terrorism, weapons advancements and life on the front line. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @Allison_Barrie.