With seafarers being onboard vessels for long periods of time, unable to attend doctor’s check-ups, dental care is a common issue that the crew is facing while at sea. In a worst-case scenario, dental problems may require an urgent medical treatment or even the repatriation of seafarers.
dental issue is a tricky problem. It can become quite an unpleasant situation, thus bringing negative impacts on the ship’s safe manning, along with possible delays within the operations.
When a dental issue arises, it usually affects seafarers’ work productivity and performance, while it also influences their concentration and leads to a real safety risk.
What is really hiding behind dental problems?
One of the main causes of dental problems is that crewmembers tend to consume highly caffeinated, energy and sugary drinks due to the long working hours onboard. At the same time, unhealthy snacks or high levels of nicotine inhalation can further enhance dental issues.
In light of the above, seafarers must pay attention to their dental health and take daily care of their teeth so as to avoid periodontal disease, tooth decay and toothache.
Although toothache can be ceased with pain relief medicines onboard, this is a temporary solution as it doesn’t fix the overall problem.
However, when it comes to periodontal disease, things are getting worse, if its symptoms are not observed at an early stage.
Specifically, the symptoms include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding or tender gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
With dental care systems in foreign ports varying a lot from what a seafarer is used to, the quality of care may also differentiate from region to region.
Key practices for healthy teeth
That is why, seafarers must take into consideration the importance of maintaining a good oral hygiene, as they are recommended to:
- Take regular dental checkups, especially before embarkation or long voyages.
- Brush their teeth properly for approximately two minutes, at least twice a day.
- Make circular and gently movements during brushing each tooth.
- Change their toothbrush every three to four months, when bristles begin to fray.
- Following brushing, properly rinse their mouth.
- Floss their teeth daily after a meal.
- Make sure that toothbrush’s bristles cover both their teeth and gums.
- Choose a brush concerning their needs. A soft-bristled brush to remove plaque and debris from teeth or a powered toothbrush for teeth cleaning.
- Brush their tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath.
- Use a mouthwash to control plaque bacteria and avoid bad breath.
Crew should always keep in mind that personal hygiene is essential to prevent possible toothaches which lead to concentration, wellbeing issues, impacts on sleep, eating and other daily activities.