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Backpacking with tooth pain

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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby BrianF » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:47 am

Once many years ago I got a cracked tooth near Muir Pass on the South Lake to North lake loop. Very painful, but no real swelling or infection. Fortunately had a whole bottle of aspirin along and as long as I took 2 every 4 hours it was tolerable but still painful. I definitely knew whenever the 4 hours was up. It still took away from the enjoyment of the trip, but it was not so bad that we didn't stick to our trip and had layover days in Evolution Basin and Humphreys basin, By the time we came out the pain was mostly gone (dead tooth) and in the next few weeks got my first root canal.
I have since had the same thing happen on another tooth at home and that one got infected. The onset of pain was in mid morning and by midnight the whole side of my head was swollen, I wasn't able to open my mouth or chew and had a fever and was in agony. Got into my dentist first thing in the AM, he gave me a shot of antibiotics and more to take at home and the swelling went down rapidly. That kind of infection is quite dangerous and I was lucky to be at home and not in the wilderness. Now I carry a Z-pack of antibiotics in my 1st aid kit to try to knock down an infection if one starts.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher



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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby longri » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:50 pm

gary c. wrote:My teeth are not great but I go to the dentist regularly and as a result I have quite a few caps, some with root canals and some without. When I expressed concern abot having a cap come lose in the backcountry and having to deal with the exposure of a tooth my dentist reached in a drawer and handed me a repair kit he gives out. It's just a little tube of glue, aplicater, and cotton swab thing to bite down on but they work. I've never needed one a bubby had a crown come off on a trip and it fixed him right up. Every year I get a couple new new kits from him to carry in my pack and my travel shaving kit.

I had a crown come off during Christmas dinner one year. I couldn't see the dentist for 5 days and I don't recall it being a big deal not having the crown. But maybe if it were a front tooth instead of a molar it would have been a different story.

It was a gold crown, expensive not only because it was a custom appliance but also due to the material. I asked my dentist what it would have cost me to replace it had I swallowed it. She said that it almost never happens since the gold is so heavy in your mouth. But if it did and it were her she said she'd be panning for gold each morning.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby Jim F » Thu Jan 30, 2014 2:47 pm

Longri's panning for gold" comment is appreciated.

Actually my porcelain crowns have been as expensive as the gold crowns. A few years back I noted a porcelain crown suddenly missing after eating dinner in the backcountry. Recalling that it cost $700 I initated a "Search and Rescue " operation over the next couple of days. The crown was finally retrieved during a rest stop on Pinchot Pass. My dentist cemented it back a few days later.

Now that I am enjoying more free time in my mid 60s, I seem to be generating an impressive tab at the dental office. Last summer a toothache in the Sixty Lakes Basin resulted in tooth 30 getting a root canal procedure. The summer before, the ache in tooth 19 that started in Darwin Canyon resulted in an extraction and subsequent implant.....

In recent years, a solid effort on my part to take care of the teeth before the summer season ramps up, unfortunately has not gotten me through the season unscathed.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:16 pm

Jim F wrote:
The summer before, the ache in tooth 19 that started in Darwin Canyon resulted in an
extraction and subsequent implant.....


How did that work out for you Jim? Was the implant painful afterwards? I'm grappling
with the decision to extract and implant, or root canal and crown #12. Don't want
issues to surface while in the backcountry this year. It seem the more folks I ask about
their experiences with either procedure (especially the root canal) the more difficult it
is to make a decision since some have had good experiences and have others horror
stories. :(
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby longri » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:43 pm

Jim F wrote:...I initated a "Search and Rescue " operation over the next couple of days.

How exactly?
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby longri » Thu Jan 30, 2014 7:54 pm

maverick wrote:I'm grappling with the decision to extract and implant, or root canal and crown #12. Don't want issues to surface while in the backcountry this year.

I'm not a dentist but I always thought the rule of thumb was to keep your real teeth as long as possible.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby BrianF » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:47 pm

Mav, Having had a few root canals, two molar extractions and one implant I would say the extraction aftermath was the only part of any of them that was painful. (well, paying for any of them was excruciating) All of my root canals have been because of cracked teeth and two of them have had to be extracted after a few years because the crack went way down into the root and the crown didn't keep that from getting worse. But I have never had a crown fall off or a root canal tooth go suddenly bad.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby Jim F » Thu Jan 30, 2014 11:32 pm

Hi Maverick and Longri,

My understanding also is that it is preferable to attempt to save a natural tooth whenever realistically feasible. The root canal treatment on tooth 30 was done last June through an existing crown. Pain, swelling, and drainage resolved in a few weeks. I am told that the root canal treatment will leave the tooth somewhat weaker, but if it can survive a few more years I will be happy.

As for tooth 19, it was extracted in 2012, as it was very unlikely root canal treatment would salvage the tooth. The screw for the implant was placed 15 days ago after it was felt that the area was healed, the adjacent teeth were problem free, and enough bone remained to support the implant. I got opinions from three dentists prior to going ahead with the implant.

The Search and Rescue involved "panning for porcelain." After I noticed my porcelain crown missing immediately after dinner (a chewy pizza of sorts), I assumed the crown was sitting in my stomach with the pizza and would eventually have to pass and come out! I was certainly glad to see it again at Pinchot Pass. Maybe that was an example of Leave No Trace!

I appreciate the expertise of the dentists I have encountered. My attitude is that I am fortunate that I can benefit from their services. Although I tolerate their work well, it is certainly costly and not fun. Importantly, some research has suggested that keeping the teeth in decent shape is probably good for the higher priced real estate: vasculature, nervous system, and immune system.

Good luck and stay well.

Jim
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby Rockchucker » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:06 am

I won't even tell you guys I've never even had a single cavity, not bad at 39. :moon:
I'm no suture for my future.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby austex » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:35 am

Rockchucker wrote:I won't even tell you guys I've never even had a single cavity, not bad at 39. :moon:

Must be that pure water of the Eastern side... Genetics I hear too.
Me I've always had bad teeth. I go 2x a year. You name it; I've had it, even an apico. That's where they re-do a root canal through the gum w/o taking off the crown. No implants though. THAT being said I travel with a little tub of den-temp.(size of a mini marshmallow) Smells like cloves when mixed. Peace of mind as some of my crowns protect non-root canal-ed teeth that when missing can be painful to say the least when exposed to hot/cold or even air.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby maverick » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:18 am

Thanks Brian and Jim for your input and sharing your experiences.
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Re: Backpacking with tooth pain

Postby rlown » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:55 am

longri wrote:
maverick wrote:I'm grappling with the decision to extract and implant, or root canal and crown #12. Don't want issues to surface while in the backcountry this year.

I'm not a dentist but I always thought the rule of thumb was to keep your real teeth as long as possible.


A real tooth is not a real tooth if it has no root or blood supply. Not a dentist either, but i've seen a few. :) teeth w/o that blood supply gets brittle. They do want you to keep them intact so those next to them "migrate". That takes time, so there is time to decide on the implant or bridge. I'd go implant everytime. I don't like the suspense of finding out if your tooth is cracked too deep to repair.

I had one cavity, when i was 5. baby tooth. none since, but 50 years of wear and tear will take it's toll.

Mav, you should go right for dentures.. :D Just make a call. The angst is building..

russ
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