Your SHTF Dental Plan: Supplies to stock up on, skills to learn

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Survival dental health. Supplies and skills for dental emergencies.

I didn’t get my first cavity until I was 27 years old. Honest. My teeth were in absolute perfect condition for almost 3 decades. I didn’t even need to wear braces. Survival dental health wasn’t even on my radar.

So, I took dental health for granted. I forgot to floss, at times drank too much soda, and sure enough, moving into my 30’s, cavities began popping up here and there and my dentist warned me about tooth decay and gum disease and their affect on my overall health.

Those same warnings are given to millions of people every year by earnest dentists and dental hygienists, but not everyone heeds them.

In a worst-case scenario, visits to the dentist may become a luxury no longer available, or at least, not available to the majority of people. Even now there are millions of families who can no longer afford teeth cleanings, braces, and other expensive forms of dental care.

It makes sense, then, to learn as many alternative ways as possible to take good care of your teeth and gums and begin stocking up on the supplies you’ll need. In no way does this advice replace visits to the dentist. Please don’t use it as an excuse to avoid unpleasant dental work! Rather, I want to give you some ideas for taking extra good care of your teeth and gums in a worst-case scenario and give you a list of supplies so you can begin stocking up for your own SHTF Dental Plan!

Toothpaste options for your survival dental health

It’s pretty easy to stock up on large amounts of toothpaste and toothbrushes using coupons. But if you’d like other options, here are a couple of recipes for homemade toothpaste and a tooth powder using ingredients that can easily be stocked up and stored long-term.

For these recipes, you’ll need Bentonite clay. I’ve been using a natural clay powder brand, which originates in Death Valley. It’s a very fine powder that hasn’t been irradiated and contains calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. It can be stored indefinitely, which makes it a terrific product for stocking up! Just buying one jar of Bentonite clay every couple of months will give you a sizable stockpile pretty quickly.

You’ll also want to stock up on essential oils, such as peppermint, spearmint, or cinnamon, baking soda, and calcium powder. If you don’t want fluoride in your store-bought toothpaste or have other concerns with their ingredients, stock up instead on ingredients to make homemade toothpaste or tooth powder. These ingredients can last for years, if not indefinitely.

Remineralizing Tooth Powder 

Homemade Clay Toothpaste

Want something even easier than this? Make a paste of baking soda and water, or hydrogen peroxide, for getting your teeth clean. Dentists warn that using baking soda over a long period of time can weaken tooth enamel, so you may want to use this with other toothpaste recipes.

My favorite alternative toothbrush

Several years ago I spent some time with Marjorie Wildcraft. She had just finished filming a DVD with herbal expert, Doug Simons, called “Alternatives to Dentists.” During our conversation, she urged me to try brushing my teeth with a willow twig.

“You’ll love the way your teeth feel and it actually makes them stronger,” she claimed.

So, on a family camping trip through Colorado, I tracked down a willow tree, snipped a small twig, and began using it to clean my teeth. I loved being able to scrub each tooth, front and back and into the gum line. My teeth felt very smooth and clean, similar to that after-the-dentist feeling. The twig doesn’t have to be from a willow tree, by the way.

If you’re skeptical of the willow twig toothbrush and don’t have a toothbrush handy, soft strips of cloth can be used to rub against teeth to get them clean.

Dentists and dental hygienists alike strongly recommend using the softest toothbrushes, not a firm toothbrush, which can damage teeth and gums. If you’re stocking up on toothbrushes, always get the softest brushes possible.

Homemade mouthwash for another alternative dental product

If, after using homemade toothpaste and a willow twig, you still feel the need for even fresher teeth, you can easily mix up a batch of homemade mouthwash. Again, great news! These recipes call for ingredients that are shelf-stable and can be stored for very long periods of time. To maximize that shelf life, always store in the darkest, coolest, and driest spot in the house.

Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash

Easy peasy. Combine equal parts 3% hydrogen peroxide and water, just enough for one swish. Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t have an indefinite shelf life and it should be stored in a very cool location, even in the refrigerator. However, this is a very easy item to store and as a mouthwash, it couldn’t get any easier than this.

Minty Essential Oil Mouthwash

Combine together a cup of water and 10-20 drops of an essential oil. Do test the flavor of the mouthwash at 10 drops before adding any more, since some oils are much stronger tasting than others. Cinnamon essential oil is a good choice because it may have antifungal and antibacterial properties. Peppermint and spearmint are also very good choices for dental health.

Salt Water Mouthwash

Not glamorous, and if anything, a salt water mouthwash is boring, but the fact is, this continues to be recommended by dentists worldwide for its effectiveness as a natural disinfectant. It can help heal sores as well. Combine 1 teaspoon salt with 1 cup water. As effective as this is, short term, it shouldn’t be used long term because the acidity could soften tooth enamel over time. Use this option only occasionally.

Colloidal silver

While colloidal silver isn’t a mouthwash exactly, its proponents claim that it is effective against periodontal disease. Whether you stock up on store-bought or make your own homemade colloidal silver, this is another option for maintaining good dental health in a worst case scenario.

Dental floss, or “It’s time for your biannual flossing lecture.”

When my trusty assistant, Bethanne, informed me that she had a dentist appointment, she ended our conversation with, “It’s time for my biannual flossing lecture.”

Her comment made me laugh because I, too, was familiar with that spiel. I’m proud to say that I floss my teeth much more often now than I used to, but probably not as often as my hygienist would like. The main purpose of using floss is to break the contact point between teeth and loosen debris. Brushing alone doesn’t usually accomplish this.

The really great news for your SHTF Dental Plan is that just about anything can be used in place of dental floss, although before resorting to this list, use coupons and grocery store sales to stock up on plenty of floss.

Per a few dental hygienists that I know, you can use these in place of floss:

  • Thread
  • Embroidery floss (use a single strand at a time)
  • Fishing line
  • Pipe cleaners — This comes in varying sizes. Get the smaller sizes to use in between your teeth.

Oil pulling for cleaner, healthier teeth and gums

When I first heard of oil pulling, I thought it was related to an obscure beauty regimen. I was a little shocked to learn that, instead, it involved swishing oil around in one’s mouth for 15-20 minutes at a time. Incredibly, I learned that this ancient process has received approval by many in the medical and dental communities.

One dentist, Jessica T. Emery of Sugar Fix Dental Loft in Chicago explains,

“Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell,” Emery says. “Cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil, a fat, they naturally adhere to each other.”

Oil pulling, therefore, can help fight gingivitis, plaque, bad breath, tooth decay, and some regular users swear it has made their teeth whiter.

The process is very simple:

1. Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth.

2. Swish it around, gently, for 15-20 minutes. If you’re just getting started with this process, start with 5 minutes, and then gradually increase the time. I usually put the oil in my mouth and swish while I’m getting ready for the day.

3. Spit out the oil and brush your teeth.

As part of your SHTF Dental Plan, stock up on coconut oil, which already has anti-bacterial properties. Olive oil and sunflower oil are also good choices. One oil that I tried, designed specifically for oil pulling, is Pulling Oil by GuruNanda. I really liked the fact that it remained in a liquid form, unlike my coconut oil that is usually solid due to the cooler temps of my home and Texas climate. The GuruNanda brand contains a mixture of sesame, sunflower, coconut, and peppermint oils and was very easy to use.

Finally, an herb that may strengthen and repair teeth enamel

Once tooth enamel has been damaged or has decayed, the general consensus is that the damage is done and cannot be repaired. Many in the alternative health fields, however, beg to differ. One of those is Doug Simon, co-creator of the Alternatives to Dentists DVD I mentioned earlier. When I interviewed Doug a few years back, he claimed that ingesting dried horsetail is effective against tooth decay and can actually heal cavities.

Why might horsetail be effective against tooth decay? Horsetail is a natural source of silica and may be able to re-mineralize teeth.

I have a couple of small cavities and began taking horsetail capsules daily about 4 months ago. My next dentist appointment isn’t until early summer, but I’m hoping that these small cavities have, indeed, healed. In the past, I’ve also taken 1 teaspoon of dried, ground horsetail in a smoothie or mixed with a glass of water, and Doug recommended 1/2 teaspoon of horsetail in a glass of water for my children when they were ages 9 and 11.

A word of warning about horsetail and any other herbal remedy. In a true SHTF scenario, you might not be able to, “Ask your medical practitioner for advice before consuming…” The time to do your research into herbal remedies and other alternative medicines is right now while doctors, medical facilities, and mountains of information are available. Additionally, learn a bit about herbalism yourself.

Some common-sense tips for healthy teeth and gums

You may be sitting in the middle of a worst-case scenario and have all your supplies ready to maintain strong and healthy teeth and gums. Those supplies, along with your best intentions for survival dental health, won’t get you very far if you include a large amount of sugar in your diet and spend the day sipping sweet tea or juice! Just because the world has gone sideways doesn’t mean all the normal, boring advice you’ve heard for many years is suddenly ineffective.

In fact, if there was ever a time to adhere to best dental practices, that time is now.

DO avoid foods with refined sugars.

DO floss your teeth daily and brush them twice.

DON’T neglect your teeth and gums, especially in a worst case scenario. Their care should become a priority.

DO insist that every member of the family brush, floss, and otherwise take good care of their teeth.

DO rinse mouth with water (rinse, swish, and spit) after each meal.

Printable resource for you

Click here to get a free, printable resource with all the SHTF Dental Plan supplies listed in this article.

Helpful resources mentioned in this article

14 thoughts on “Your SHTF Dental Plan: Supplies to stock up on, skills to learn”

  1. Thrifty Native

    Can you let us know if the horse tail made a difference? I’m quite curious about it. Great article!

  2. Even though it is fiction, just watching Cast Away when Tom Hanks has to “extract” his own tooth is enough to remind me that dental health always reaches beyond the day you are in.

    Thanks for this post.

  3. Just because I had heard so many people recommend the inner strands of paracord for flossing, I tried it and a singlie inner strand is way too big for floss!!! Just a heads up. I like the twig toothbrush, he even suggests–or maybe it was someone else–using a disposable chopstick and that works great!

  4. Carter Henderson

    This was a great article on preserving oral hygiene. The homemade toothpaste replacements were my favorite. I’ll have to try them out soon. Thank you for the good read, and the great tips!

    Carter Henderson
    Serebox, Preparedness Made Easy

  5. Lewis Larson, DMD

    I have practiced dentistry as a Periodontist for over thirty years. I retired in 2012.

    My successful treatment of periodontal disease consisted of treatment and teaching the patient to remove the causative bacterial plaque. Most chemicals don’t work, just use proper cleaning tools (brush, floss, proxy-brushes a rubber stimulator). Fluoride toothpaste works, you can spit, not swallow. Early dental visits to learn how well your cleaning efforts are doing is important, as well of treatment to correct decay and periodontal disease while it is in the beginning stages. As a prepper myself, I am stockpiling the above cleaning tools and fluoride toothpaste.

    Get your mouth healthy now before the lights go out.

    Lewis Larson, DMD

  6. I have been a Pediatric Dentist for 22 years and strongly advise sticking with conventional means of dental care for your children. Do not have them ingest horsetail or use colloidal silver. And do not let them rinse with hydrogen peroxide regularly ( hydrogen peroxide releases free radicals which are known carcinogens to growing tissue). The willow twig toothbrush and pipecleaners will lead to attachment loss and gingival recession! Please run these alternative methods by actual dentists before advising.

    The best treatment is preventative treatment, very true. Get your family into the habit of taking care of their teeth and eating healthy.

    I’ve often wondered, when the SHTF, do all of the dentists and doctors just disappear?!? Lol. This is why it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors: we all have skills which will be invaluable. Many dentists are Preppers, don’t be afraid to barter for services 😉

    1. The Survival Mom

      I haven’t made a video, but I’ve used a twig on many occasions. If you can cut the twig at an angle and then use that angled end to clean your teeth, it’s a little easier. Just press the end of the twig against your tooth firmly, rub back and forth up to the gum line. You won’t be putting any more pressure on the tooth than does the dentist when he/she cleans your teeth.

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