Dentition in Disasters

From the ancient Egyptians to the American pioneers, we've always had trouble with our teeth.  More recent advances in nutrition, medical practice and dental care have improved the condition and longevity of our teeth.  And our lives are better for it.  We live longer and we can still chew our food when we're 60. Yum!

Have you ever had an aching tooth?  It's agony.  You can't wait to get to the dentist.  What would happen if we had a dental emergency in the midst of another disaster or delay?

Imagine you're on a four day hike or that it's the second day after the "big storm" and no one has power yet.  You are happily munching your lunch, flashlight in hand, when "CRUNCH!"  Applesauce isn't supposed to make that sound, your filling just came out.  Oh, no! There's no way you're gonna see a dentist today.  What do you do?

Your local pharmacy or drug store probably carries just what you need.  Temporary fillings! Yep, in a pinch you can replace a filling or reset a crown with a $5 tube of dental magic.  Hopefully, it will tide you over until you find yourself relieved to be reclining in that chair, a bib on your chest and a light in your eyes! But these products can only save you the discomfort and inconvenience IF you already have a tube in your kit when you need it.

Is this safe to eat?

I found this bottle of tea in the fridge at work. The manufacturer's date is June 2009. Now, I don't make a habit of drinking long abandoned beverages from the kitchen at work, but... wait maybe I do. (This isn't the first time this has happened.) Anyway, it's fine and delicious.

In other times and places, far from our air conditioned and refrigerated world of grocery stores, shipped produce, fresh meat and plastic bottles... in those times and places people understood how to keep food for a long time. They also knew which foods would not keep. Our modern conveniences have eliminated the need to understand those things, but as we have lost that knowledge, we have become fearful.

Some foods expire (like fresh milk), others are just better by a certain date (a jar of peaches), and some are ok to eat for years and years (like whole beans and grains). Most store bought canned and bottled goods are fine to eat or drink as long as they were stored appropriately (in a cool, dark, dry place) and as long as the container is undamaged. Canned fruits and veggies could last 50 years! Really! If you open it and it looks good and it smells good... it's probably fine to eat.

You need to rotate through the items in your pantry.  Use the oldest (or soonest to "expire") first. As you stock up on your family's favorite foods in your pantry, take a minute to remember which items will last longest, prepare easiest, and taste delicious to everyone at your house.  Keep a little extra of those on hand... just in case.