If you spend any amount of time outside—hunting, hiking, camping—you likely prepare for unfortunate situations that can arise in the wilderness. Maybe you pack a small medical kit before you leave town, stocked with some antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment, moleskin and water purification tablets. You feel prepared to handle most common outdoor ailments and injuries.

Except for this: You’re enjoying a brisk, quiet day in nature, far from town, and all of a sudden, you feel an unexpected sharp twinge in your mouth. Whether it’s because you’ve taken a lunch break alongside a creek and bit into an apple, or it’s a dull headache that’s started near your jaw, tooth pain can easily ruin a perfectly good trip in the outdoors.

Does My Toothache Mean I Have to Pack It in?

Be Prepared

Just like any other ailment or injury, it’s important to be prepared. If you plan to be away from professional medical or dental assistance for a length of time, be sure you’ve packed the necessary items to practice general preventive care and to treat a dental ailment. Here are some items to put in a top-notch dental first aid kit.

  • Dental wax rope
  • Cotton rolls and/or pellets
  • Floss
  • Ibuprofen
  • Oral anesthetic gel like Orajel

Something as simple as a piece of jerky in your teeth can cause sore gums, so floss is always good to have on hand. Cotton rolls or pellets can be the difference between a bad mouth bleed and a controlled one, while wax can help prevent discomfort and abrasions from partial denture work.

Dental Treatment in the Outdoors

A dental first-aid kit can be the difference between a enjoyable fishing trip and a miserable one. If your pain is dull and manageable, it may not be a reason to head home. There are other ways to treat a toothache or mouth pain in the wilderness, until you return home and can make an appointment with your dental provider.

  • According to studies, clove can be as effective for pain relief as benzocaine cream. While you’re sitting by your campfire, boil about a pint of water and brew, approximately, one teaspoon of clove for a rich, spicy flavor that quells a dull pain. If you don’t have clove on hand, peppermint and green tea work well too.
  • With a pot of hot water over a fire, swirl in about a teaspoon of salt and use it as a warm mouthwash to help reduce swelling and relieve irritation.
  • Soak a handkerchief in a fresh, cold water source like a creek or a river, and use it as a cold compress along your jawline to help with headaches associated with TMJ, cool swelling, and treat discomfort.   

How to Identify a Dental Emergency

A first aid kit is essential to preventive and on-site, immediate care in the event that you experience discomfort on a trip in the outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore important signs of a dental emergency. If you experience bleeding, facial swelling, or a fever, you should pack it in and seek professional care, as these are signs of an urgent issue like fractures or an infected tooth.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Anchorage to help deal with any oral health problems, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment at Denali Dental Care.