• Question: What would you do if you had toothache?

    Asked by Anon to Kevin, Katie, Jon, Jean-François, Floris, Delma, Claudie, Camilla, Beth, Adrian on 31 Dec 2015.
    • Photo: Adrianos Golemis

      Adrianos Golemis answered on 31 Dec 2015:

      I guess you would first hope that it’s just an intermittent pain and will simply go away with a pill 🙂 However, if you do have a serious dental problem, that would require a dentist’s assistance.

      If you are “simply” in a few days mission in orbit around the Earth (like a short mission on the ISS) you could perhaps survive with painkillers and antibiotics (in the case of a broken tooth for instance) and then treat the damage properly once you return to our planet. If you are on a 3-year trip to Mars, however, with no possibility of evacuation, things are quite different! In that case probably you or one of the other Astronauts will have received some level of training in dental medicine to be able to cope with such cases.

      What is more important perhaps is precaution: for long missions in isolation, whether in space or on the ground, crew members are screened to ensure that the risk of developing medical and dental problems is minimal. They are also advised to adhere to proper dental care in order to keep the likelihood of such an event low.

    • Photo: Jean-François Clervoy

      Jean-François Clervoy answered on 18 Jan 2016:

      The medical kit on board the ISS allows the crew to provide some dental care such as temporary filling if needed. Besides, very strong antibiotic and anti-pain medication is available on board which usually are sufficient to allow the crew member to wait for his/her normal planned return. This risk is well under control also thanks to a strict medical screening before flight.