Did you know astronauts have some of the cleanest pearly whites around? Not only is an astronaut expected to master a detailed understanding of space, gravity and aerodynamics, they also receive dental training to help them keep their smile healthy whilst journeying to the outer reaches of our galaxy.
So while astronauts over 225 million kilometres from earth are keeping their teeth healthy, it is not uncommon for some of us down here on earth to feel strapped for time when keeping our smiles clean. Despite this, a healthy smile is important no matter where you are. At TFI Dentistry in Thornlands and Labrador we are interested in healthy smiles both in outer space, and down here on earth.
Smiling through microgravity
So how do astronauts look after their teeth?
Astronauts are each trained in the ability to manage basic dental procedures and are faced with interesting conditions in which to take care of their smiles. Arguably the most interesting is microgravity.
Gravity is the force that is responsible for governing the universe’s motion. In essence it keeps everything in its place, including the earth orbiting around the sun and the moon orbiting around the earth. In fact, if you’re reading this on a computer, it’s the reason that your computer isn’t literally floating over your head.
Microgravity creates the weightlessness that astronauts experience in space. It’s pretty much like it reads – a little amount of gravity. While this little amount of gravity enables astronauts to get around weightlessly, it can also wreak havoc on their teeth.
Some studies suggest that microgravity can cause:
- Dental caries and decay
- Dental discomfort
- Damage to the jawbone and bone loss
Among other things.
With all these factors working against them, astronauts need to ensure that they take stringent care of their smiles and are prepared for a dental emergency. Despite this all humans, astronauts and us alike, only get one set of natural adult teeth, so it’s important to have excellent dental hygiene down here on earth too.
George Clooney and Sandra Bullock; not your average astronauts
Most of us have seen George and Sandra floating about with beautiful white smiles in the motion picture “Gravity”. They portray the perfect picture of what we might dream an astronaut to be: seamlessly beautiful, with perfect teeth, floating around space with ease.
While the movie may differ from the reality of what it’s really like to endure the gruelling trip to space, you can be sure that astronauts’ teeth are just as healthy.
An astronaut must pass a number of dental health requirements before they are able to travel to space, not to mention the ability to use the emergency in-flight dental kit.
Does an astronaut need a dentist on board when travelling to space?
While astronauts do not need a dentist of board, they will have one waiting in the wings at mission control, as astronauts may need to use the on-board:
- Syringes and anaesthetics
- Restorative material
- Dental mirror and probe
As well as a variety of other dental tools.
The effects of microgravity, as well as eating soft packaged food and the increased chance of trauma to the teeth due to turbulence can mean that the need for more extensive dental care can become a reality.
Gravity-free dental hygiene
Brushing your teeth in space means no running water and careful manoeuvring around disposing of the excess toothpaste in your mouth. The mistake of not putting your toothpaste back where it belongs could mean that when you go to use it next it may have floated to the other end of the space ship.
Fortunately for you and I, permitting that we never become astronauts of course, dental hygiene on earth is much simpler. Some steps you can take to ensure that your smile is healthy and can last a lifetime is:
- Brushing twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Avoiding food and beverages that have a high sugar content, as well as foods that are brightly coloured (to avoid discolouration) or highly acidic
- Attending a six monthly dental check-up
Regular check-ups enable dental professionals to identify oral concerns in the early stages of their development which in turn can make them much easier to treat. At TFI Dentistry we offer the full spectrum of general and preventive dentistry here on earth to ensure that our patients are maintaining excellent dental health, just like the astronauts in space!