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Dentists on Mars: Toothache’s Final Frontier

Dentists On Mars Toothache's Final Frontier In Sunbury At Dental Couture

It’s not just NASA who has been getting ready for future missions to the planet Mars. From Elon Musk’s SpaceX commercial project to the Indian Space Agency, boffins employed to think about what a small crew of astronauts may require on any lengthy space trip to the red planet. This includes stuff like dental care. Imagine being encased in this tin can and flying to Mars, when suddenly you get really bad toothache whilst sucking on your pre-digested pap tube. Who you gonna call? There’s very little in life as painfully distracting as tooth ache. For indeed, dentists on Mars know that in outer space, no-one can hear you scream – welcome to toothache’s final frontier.

“So far in the history of human spaceflight the occurrence of dental injuries has been minimal. During the US Apollo and Skylab programmes, no dental problems which might have impacted a mission occurred and, though there is no written documentation of an inflight dental emergency for a US astronaut, there is at least one piece of evidence which suggests that a NASA astronaut temporarily repaired a crown displacement. In contrast, during long term Salyut and Mir missions both lost fillings and crowns were reported and at least one severe incident with extreme pain occurred during the Salyut 6 mission.”

Dental Care Aboard A Space Craft To Mars

Unless NASA decides on a strategy of employing astronauts with dental degrees to go along with their aeronautical engineering, biology, computer science and physics academic credentials some sort of ad hoc strategy will have to be in place to deal with this eventuality. Perhaps, astronauts could have all their teeth removed for the lengthy journey. This will fit with the tube sucking diet most of us have seen in space travel movies. You have to ask yourself that tough question – would you give up your teeth to fly to Mars? Would false teeth be a fair return on the chance to achieve an off world legacy that would be hard to match?

Getting Things Done in Dentistry With Major Tom

In reality, training astronauts to remove teeth in space is not that much of a stretch. I mean, every boffin has to have a hobby! More challenging will be fitting a dental kit capable of such procedures in the space craft. Space is always at a premium when it comes to transporting space ships over vast distances through our solar system. Carrying enough fuel to rocket out of Earth’s gravity is the main problem and everything else must take a minor role. I cannot visualise anything too bulky or large getting a seat on the craft. Perhaps, a pair of platinum pliers and a vial of something to dull the pain.

Outer Space Effects On Oral Health

It would be a major bummer to get all the way to Mars and end up with a nasty toothache. Many of the studies mounted by NASA scientists have been into how lengthy space travel impacts upon human oral health. All that force and pressure, low gravity and suchlike does stuff to human beings who have evolved according to the atmospheric conditions on Earth. We were not designed to climb into tin cans and rocket through space for months or years on end, or even more challenging, endlessly.

The oral and maxillofacial region is not immune to the effects of space travel. Studies have reported incidences of dental cavities, periodontal diseases, oro-maxillofacial fractures, pain, sensory abnormalities in the teeth and oral mucosa, salivary gland stone formation (sialoliths), craniomandibular joint disorders, masticatory muscle atrophy, and oral cancer in astronauts. Evaluating, preventing, and managing these effects in the oral cavity is essential to improve astronauts’ quality of life during and after a space flight.

“The oral health of astronauts, last studied in the mid- 1970s on Skylab, has not been a priority area of study for NASA due to the short length of shuttle stays. But with longer stays on the International Space Station, and planning for a trip to Mars, investigations into how spaceflight affects oral health are needed. The objective is to introduce the dental research community to changes occurring in humans who go into space, and how these changes might impact oral health. Dr. Millie Hughes-Fulford, an astronaut-scientist, will review what happens to humans who go into space, and the difficulties of living, and carrying out experiments in space. She will then discuss her research on cell cultures of osteoblasts in space, and in hypergravity Dr. Gerald Sonnenfeld will review immunological changes that occur in spaceflight, and relate the observed decreases in various types of immunological responses to possible effects on oral immunological factors.”

Dentists On Mars Toothache's Final Frontier At Dental Couture In Sunbury

Martians. Molars & Mountaineers

To put it mildly, the conditions in outer space are so different to those on Earth that they mess with us on cellular levels and this is not good long term. In a somewhat similar manner, mountaineers who climb the highest peaks like Everest end up with a lot of permanent ailments to their health. Their respiratory system cannot cope with the rarefied air and this puts a lot of pressure on their overall health. We, as human beings, are optimally suited to our environments and when we travel beyond the settings we are attuned to, many life threatening issues arise.

ET Stay Home

Is it hubris to wish to go to Mars? Should we just stay at home and put our best endeavours into making life better here for all? This attitude flies in the face of all that indomitable spirit of humankind stuff, of course. We live in grossly inequitable times, where some of us have lots and many of us have very little. We do not think or act as one united race or species. Going to the dentist in many parts of the world is akin to trying to reach Mars. Maybe, we should fix up the imbalances at home before shooting off to Mars.

AI & Dentistry Aboard A Mission To Mars

Some say that artificial intelligence will assist our intrepid astronauts with their dental care in transit to Mars. You know in all the space travel movies and TV shows there are always flickering on-board hologram doctors and nurses to advise and treat. We got used to GPs treating via video link during the recent global pandemic down here on Earth. I hope that the satellite service is good up that way in outer space. Interplanetary adventure will be no fun with a bad tooth ache. No matter where we go, we will always require the services of dental expertise as long as we have teeth and gums. The final frontier may be breached by astronauts but that small black hole beneath our nose remains. This portal, complete with teeth and tongue, bears witness to our ability to satiate our appetites for yummy victuals. The view up there will be amazing, but most of us still gravitate to what is on our plates. Captain Kirk was no string bean, not in the original series anyway – he enjoyed a full plate or two.

Oral Care Kits With The Full Caboodle

“One of the most pressing questions regarding long-term space travel is how astronauts will manage dental infections and emergencies without the immediate presence of a dentist or proper dental equipment. Astronauts will be equipped with specialized dental kits containing essential tools such as dental forceps, dental mirrors, dental scalers, and filling materials. These provisions will empower the astronauts to address minor dental issues and provide temporary relief, bridging the gap until they can return to Earth or receive further specialized care. “
– St Lawrence Dentistry

In space no one can hear you scream! Not even when the electric drill reaches its high pitched whine. Astronauts have to be courageous and brave. Going beyond the pain of an endless tooth ache and infection may be the price one individual may have to pay to reach the red planet. Reaching for the platinum pliers and holding them steady in one hand whilst the stars whizz past at supersonic speeds.

“Ground control this is Major Tom, my tooth is dead there’s something wrong!”
“Suck it up Major Tom and remember what’s at stake.”
“Steak! I couldn’t eat soup through a straw right at this moment.”
– Not David Bowie

Dentists on Mars may yet be humankind’s final dental frontier. Perhaps we will see more astronauts retiring into a second vocation as tooth pullers. One may become the first to open a dental clinic on the moon. Dental tourism might be about to stretch its wings, inveigling itself into space tourism. Elon Musk loves an entrepreneurial opportunity: SpaceX might just explore “adjacent spaces” such as extractions (Xtractions?).

Disclaimer: The material posted is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Results vary with each patient. Any dental procedure carries risks and benefits. If you have any specific questions about any dental and/or medical matter, you should consult your dentist, physician or other professional healthcare providers.



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