Monday, January 17, 2011

Dentistry at Sea

Geert Vons
Artist/Bob Barker

Geert VonsA little while ago we had to deal with something very unpleasant for one of our crewmembers. After eating something wrong, the crown of a tooth came off and began causing severe pain. We have a doctor onboard, but do not have a dentist on the Bob Barker, but the doc contacted a dentist friend of his for advice.

Since I have about 15 years of experience as a tattoo artist, I have a stable, steady hand and can inflict pain on people voluntarily without losing concentration or being distracted from the job on which I’m focusing. I guess the closest thing to a dentist onboard a ship is a tattoo artist. The doc was happy enough to let someone else be the dentist.

After the doc had examined our patient for a possible infection and had administered the needed treatment and painkillers, the crown was ready to be replaced. The e-mail from the consulting dentist provided us with some useful information: clean and dry the specific area, make a mixture of Vaseline and cornstarch, and put the crown back in place. I don't think I would have come up with that myself, but that’s ok because I’m not a dentist. After some tests with the mixture, we decided it did not look that bad, and would be worth trying.  We improvised a dental space and the operation went seemingly well.

However, I was informed the next morning that the crown had come off again, and more drastic measures were needed. In the dentist’s e-mail, it also said we could use super glue or two-component epoxy. We repeated the procedure for the second time, using epoxy instead of the Vaseline and cornstarch mixture.

And voila! That seemed to have worked.