Managing Backcountry Dental Emergencies

It’s early fall over northern Michigan; a beautiful time of year to go paddling.  The leaves are changing, the air is turning crisp, early morning fog envelops the ponds and rivers, and the smell of wood smoke accents the air. After several days of paddling you find yourself and several friends well into the boundary waters of northern Michigan. That evening the crew whips up their famous pot of chili; hot, spicy, and a lot of it. While enjoying another mouthful, you bite down on what is supposed to be a pinto bean, but instead it turns out to be a small stone that made its way into the pot. Suddenly you feel the sharp crunch of a tooth breaking and the intense pain of an exposed nerve. Your stare down at the chunk of tooth in your hand as your jaw starts to throb. You’re miles from the nearest road, it’s dark, and none of your friends are dentists. Okay, now what?

September/October 2004 ISSN-1059-6518 Volume 17, Number 5

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