Here’s a Vital Astronaut Skill You May Not Have Considered
With a stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) typically lasting around six months, today’s astronauts must be prepared for all manner of events at the orbiting 250-mile outpost. above Earth, including dental emergencies. Think about it: if one of your molars starts to hurt badly while you’re in space, a short drive to your local dentist is out of the question.
With scenarios like these in mind, NASA spends time teaching its astronauts dental skills that cover everything from fillings to extractions.
Matthias Maurer, a German astronaut who is currently training for the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS in late October, this week tweeted some photos of him attending a dentistry training session at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. . One of the images shows Maurer looking into a mannequin’s mouth, while the other shows several sets of fake pearly whites that astronauts train on.
“Before they fly into space, the astronauts practice minor dental procedures so that we can change a filling or even pull out a tooth if we have to,” Maurer said in the tweet. He added that he hopes he doesn’t need the skills during his next mission, which he dubbed “Cosmic Kiss” in tribute to his love for space.
A Dentist‘s Perspective🪥🦷 Before flying into space, astronauts practice minor dental procedures so we can change a filling or even pull out a tooth if necessary. 🤞 I will not need these skills for #CosmicKiss but it always helps to be prepared. #tbt pic.twitter.com/9bhDTjGEQb
– Matthias Maurer (@astro_matthias) July 22, 2021
In a 2012 NASA report examining the issue of dental emergencies from spaceflight, the agency noted that the more time astronauts spend in space, the more likely such an event is likely to occur. Certainly, as NASA moves towards long-duration crewed missions to the Moon and Mars, robust procedures for dealing with dental emergencies will become all the more necessary.
Until 2012, there had been no reports of in-flight dental emergencies among American astronauts, although in 2011 the displacement of an astronaut’s crown on the ISS was temporarily successfully repaired by a crew member using supplies on board.
The report notes that Russian cosmonauts reported fillings and crowns lost in flight that could have been dislodged by vibrations during a rocket launch, and also highlights a case in 1978 where a cosmonaut allegedly suffered from “pain. dental disabling ”during the last two weeks of her 96-day flight aboard the Hi 6.
Fortunately for future space tourists using the services offered by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, the trips will be very short and therefore there will be no chance of a dental emergency occurring. In other words, there was no way Jeff Bezos would have to perform emergency root canal treatment on his brother Mark during their 10-minute trip to space earlier in the week.
For more information on how astronauts work and live aboard the International Space Station, check out this collection of fascinating videos made by former visitors to the Orbiting Outpost.