Dental Preparedness – from WH2thdr

The following is contributed by Wade Hampton, Tooth Doctor.

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Let’s start out this reply with a great big thank you for this site. I feel that the synergism that this blog can generate will be of untold benefit in the future.

That all being said, let me tell you of my preparation philosophy and activities. A famous economist once said, and I paraphrase, Unsustainable systems tend not to be sustained. That is as close as I can come to a summary of the current situation our nation is in today.  By reading and participating in this blog, I know that I do not need to explain the specifics in any more detail. We well could be on slippery slope to real trouble. How far and how fast we decline is a matter of debate and conjecture. As a real old guy Dentist with some experience in third world dental mission work, I have good head knowledge of what it takes to perform dentistry in less than optimal conditions. It is my belief that I should be prepared and plan for several different scenarios. There is a good chance that things will continue pretty much as they are. I have been through many doomsday dates from 1968 to 1976 to 1984 to Y2K to the coming 2012. All of those days have come and gone with relatively good times coming after the crisis. This time that we are in now seems different/worse than those days in the past. Who knows? It is my sincere wish that in a few years I can dump all of my cache and laugh at my paranoia.

So Scenario 1 occurs if an economic slide is slow and not catastrophically deep. Some semblance of normalcy exists, but the economy is really not good. Soup kitchens are still up, there is still power, probably shortages of many staples, but folks are getting by.  I live in one of the most conservative areas in the Nation in a mid-sized city and feel that much of the social unrest associated with an economic decline will be limited here, at least initially, as it was during the 60’s. This Scenario is viable as long as the grid is up and we have certain level of civility. I plan to continue in my current office with as many auxiliaries as I can afford and need and do as much work as the patients can afford to pay or barter for.  My normal stocks of supplies and equipment will see me through and I should have enough extra for barter and charity.

Scenario 2 Is the least likely combination of circumstances. I would say that that involves either the grid being down and civility being maintained, or the grid is up and civil unrest makes being outside dangerous. I have the equipment I need to do extractions and simple temporary restorations. I have a couple of rechargeable headlights that will give me enough light to work. I have a portable suction unit that requires 110 power.  A small generator will run what I need to work in one room. I have an All American Autoclave which is a stovetop unit that will keep my dishes clean. All essential dental meds are non-refrigerated and have a fairly long shelf life. I plan to keep them as cool as possible but that means 70, not 40. At this stage, I can probably maintain my office, as I can walk from home. Some provision for extra security would be in order, both personally and facility wise.

Scenario 3 The big bad one. The one that requires that ultimate preparation. The one that will tax everyone’s sanity and determination to its ultimate. All bets are off and we are G.O.O.D. All of my mission equipment gets packed up and taken to our retreat. It is portable, will work with a minimum of external power. I plan on having enough meds and disposables stockpiled to last as long as the shelf life allows….5 or so years for anesthetic. I can work under a tarp in the open on nice days and in a corner of a room on the rest.  I sure hope that my skills will be needed and I can barter them for needed supplies. I am not worried about the dental end of this scenario.  My training and experience dates back to pre -computer days and my mission experience gives me confidence that I know how to handle whatever may come my way.

It is the extra dental needs in this scenario that give me pause.  I will have plenty of sutures in my kit and a good supply of antibiotics. I hope to have a good stock of gloves, scrub, betadine, gauze, tape, and prayer.  I have been on a mission to learn all I can about projectile trauma and advanced wound care. I hope to find a source of information about utilization of local anesthetics for other than oral surgery. I have a pretty good library of med references (Mercks , and Grays, breakfast of champions), but am constantly on the lookout for more.  

 I have collected portable equipment that is either solar battery rechargeable or is straight hand powered. My first line below is a list of what I have secured to date.  Much of my stuff will also function for minor surgery for beyond dental purposes.

Below, see images of:

  • Field grade water/sink system
  • Aseptico portable dental chair
  • Designs for Vision loupes and light
  • All American Autoclave Non-Electric



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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
This entry was posted in Dental, Equipment, Field equipment, Medical archives, Preparation, W Hampton - Tooth Doctor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Dental Preparedness – from WH2thdr

  1. Larry says:

    The keys to DIY dentristy:

    1. Books/materials that assume there is no dentist;
    2. Specialized equipment for examining and pulling teeth (available online);
    3. A way to numb teeth.

    No. 3 can be solved legally in Canda. Human (not animal) injectable lidocaine with and without ephinephrine is avaiable through some tattoo supply sites. The special needles are available without a prescription, but have yet to find a way to purchase the injectors without a dental license.

    That lidocaine will also come in handy for stiching wounds.

  2. pa4ortho says:

    Improvised versions or the above equipment:

    My hand washing station is an outboard boat motor priming bulb with surgical tubing on each end. One end in the water source and one end suspended. Pump the water by stepping on the bulb. My portable chair is a net swing hammock chair.

    My light is a headlamp but low tech is a old school parabolic mirror on a headband with a candle or oil lamp light source in a darkened room.

    All-American is just the best way to go as is.


  3. Janet says:

    You may buy all the antibiotics you need from . . .

    [I have deleted the recommended link, as being inconsistent with American medical law. I’m sure anyone surfing the net can find foreign sources for antibiotics, which U.S. doctors cannot recommend. Sorry, Janet. – Doc Cindy]

  4. Dave, RN says:

    I’m an RN and am building up a better medical kit as well and some simple dental supplies. I also have some experience in 3rd world scenarios such as Haiti back in 1985 and Guatemala. I’ve also worked in surgery, but sure would like to find a class to improve suturing skills and other trauma related stuff, but the only one I’ve found is a 1000 miles away. I’ve not found anything in Texas.

    I’m wondering if Mexico would be a good place to get antibiotics. Last time I was there a few years ago you could get lots of stuff there…

  5. Lorie says:

    Can I live by you? I hope I have someone like you near. I’m a nurse and stocking up on medical supplies, hope there’s a few other “professionals” who are stocking up, too! Sounds like you’re on the right track! Best of luck to you and to all of us in our prepping endeavors!

    [We’ll need experienced nurses, accustomed to hands-on care. Keep up the good work. – Doc Cindy]

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