Dental Issues

In the Wild

Tooth SmileWhether you are hiking, backpacking, camping, or fishing, dental problems can occur while you are out and about.  Having survived an abscessed tooth on an 11 day 150 mile hike, I was about ready to yell louder than the bears can roar.  While there may not be a lot you can do while you are out, you can take care of the problem when you return home.

Return Home

Now you are home and in agony.  What to do?  You can sit and suffer or you can call the dentist or you can have a friend use a pair of vise grips and pull it out (I would not recommend this last method – it sounds like it would hurt a little bit too much)!  

Now on to the next dilemma.  Do you have dental insurance, or a discount program, or money on hand?  Remember you just got back from your trip where you spent WAY too much money.  So now, your mouth still hurts and your wallet hurts also.


DentistDental insurance can and is (in most cases) expensive.  It takes a lot of schooling to become a Dentist.  Paying for all of that schooling is one reason the cost is high in America. According to the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 108 million Americans do not have insurance and even some of those that do can’t get an appointment due to the lack of dentists in some geographical areas of the country.

What are the alternatives:

Dental Insurance Plans:  These are expensive for most people and families.  This is why so many do not have insurance.  There are many good companies that have Dental Plans for sale.  The Affordable Care Act has plans for kids, 18 and younger, but is not required to provide plans for adults.

Dental Discount Plans:  These come in a variety of flavors and help you get coverage that may not be available elsewhere.  Some are more expensive than others so you will want to shop around.  There are, within this type, some that have lower participation costs than others.  All you need to do is see if you can find a provider in your area.  Once you have found a provider, then you can purchase the plan you have selected.

Bag of Money

Pay-As-You-Go:  Ouch!  You are on your own and it is going to hurt your wallet.  Don’t let the man on the left fool you.  He has no intention of sharing his loot.  Nearly 40 million households have very little to no savings at all.  Planning ahead while you are younger and still have time to save is about the only way you will be able to get this last option to work out in the long run.

This is the “Voice of Experience Speaking”.  Your mom or dad probably used this one on you somewhere along the line.  In my case, I ended up having to set up a payment plan with the dentist.  I called 3 dentists before I found one willing to work with me.  Don’t let yourself get into this type of situation.  Plan ahead!

About James Kirby

Our group has been hiking, backpacking and camping in various parts of the world for over 50 years. We have been from Alaska to Texas and from Virginia to California. There have been extensive extreme levels overseas both in Europe and the Pacific while some of us were in the military. We have experienced the good times and survived the bad times. You will be amazed at how creative you can be when you forget something that you need! Through it all we have never lost our sense of adventure and are still looking to see what is over the next ridge line.
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