This chapter was prepared to provide a brief for flight surgeons and chief medical officers who will be diagnosing and treating the dental emergencies of long-duration spaceflight crews. Basic information has been included to help manage a potential emergency situation. A summary of the basic approach to differential diagnosis of dental problems is given in Table 26.1. Although some of the procedures may seem to be below the standard of care advocated by dental healthcare professionals, these procedures will bring the afflicted crewmembers to a stable condition with the least risk of iatrogenic injury, so that they can perform their duties comfortably.

Visiting a dentist during an extended-duration space flight is not an option. X rays, root canals, and definitive dental care are luxuries that are not available in space. Moreover, since in-flight equipment and supplies carried into space are limited by constraints on weight and storage space in addition to the requirement that they operate well in microgravity, the dental care-related equipment that can be provided is currently restricted. This restriction, however, should be all but eliminated by the advent of new technologies and the expansion of current technologies. Thus with the construction of long-term space habitats such as the International Space Station already being realized and plans for exploration-class missions maturing, the provision of comprehensive dental treatment to crews during space flights will become not only possible but practicable in the near future.


Root Canal Trigeminal Neuralgia Trigger Point Space Flight Pulp Chamber 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael H. Hodapp
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas Dental BranchHoustonUSA

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