Post-apocalyptic television shows and movies range in backstory from natural disasters to viruses that turn everyone into zombies. The subject matter isn’t new or unique to this generation, but it has seen a huge surge in popularity over the last decade. Not only are shows like “The Walking Dead” breaking records with the number of viewers tuning in each week, but classics like “Pride and Prejudice” have even had zombie makeovers.
One common theme that seems to prevail in almost all of the post-apocalyptic survivor character depictions is their ability to stay relatively clean and in good hygiene, especially when it comes to their teeth. Reddit boards and fan sites frequently discuss this topic. So, how are these characters managing to keep their pearly whites perfect while just trying to survive each day?
Spokane area Cosmetic Dentist, Dr. Collins, DDS gives us some insight to consider,
“The desire to have a nice smile and fresh breath didn’t just materialize after modern dentistry entered the picture. People didn’t have the tools we do, but many did their best to find a way to stay healthy with what they had. For some, this meant just using a rag and water to wipe down their teeth and gums after meals. Ancient civilizations actually invented the toothbrush without realizing it by fraying the ends of a branch and using it to get a deeper clean.”
We know the survivors of these world-ending scenarios like to form groups for resources and safety. While there is usually a lone wanderer depicted, the focus of the storyline is almost always on the groups and their interactions with each other and outside influences. We determined three primary professions would prove valuable in the fight to maintain oral health in a critically declining world.
This one is slightly obvious. At the beginning of the apocalypse, health and hygiene is probably top of mind for these survivors falling only behind food, safety, and shelter. Maybe they were dentists or hygienists before the great fall of civilization.
It probably isn’t enough for them to simply be health professionals to be pivotal to the group. They would also need the ability to look at a bigger picture regarding supplies and management of large groups of people needing care. For this reason, those who ran their own practices would be ideal.
They probably would insist that during supply raids to stores and pharmacies oral hygiene products like toothpaste, mouthwash and floss were not forgotten or overlooked after antibiotics and medications were gathered. Not only would they most likely insist to the group that the products were needed, they probably would demand cleaning the shelves and to stockpile as much as they could. These savvy survivors undoubtedly understand when meeting new groups out in the dangerous wild, having a nice smile is paramount for making allies.
The groups found by survivors with overlooked professions such as history teachers or anthropologists would have a secret weapon in their journey to dental hygiene after the end times. These folks would likely have a basic understanding of how ancient civilizations kept their teeth from rotting without modern tools at their disposal. As Collins suggested, some of the earliest oral care routines recorded in history consisted of a wet rag to wipe teeth and gums with each day. This actually prevented a lot more disease and decay than one would expect.
TV and Film Aficionados
With a wide range of ages in these groups of survivors, there would more than likely be television and movie enthusiasts with a variety of subject matter to pull from. Even those with a moderate level of media consumption likely have seen movies like Castaway or television shows like McGuyver that could be used for some DIY dentistry techniques. (Of course, we never would recommend DIY dentistry)
After Tom Hanks’ character finds himself with an infected tooth, he uses an ice skate and rock to pry it out. If you didn’t grimace while watching this scene, you are one tough cookie. It has been picked apart by many in the medical profession. We asked Collins to shed some light on this scene regarding accuracy,
“It depends on the tooth in question and the infection, of course. In this case, it was a molar, so the likelihood of being able to remove the entire tooth and root is very low. The infection would have remained in the root and continued to spread. He may have been able to knock out pieces of it, but without tools, it would have been really hard to remove everything that needed to be pulled to stop the infection from spreading.”
That’s not to say you wouldn’t be able to scrounge up some tools with supply raids that you wouldn’t be able to find on a deserted island. This is where the forming of groups comes in handy as people pool resources, supplies, and knowledge. Hopefully, this article helps you keep your smile bright and white in the zombie apocalypse should that dark day ever actually occur.
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