On July 21, 1969, the world thrilled to watch Neil Armstrong set his boots down on the Moon. He was the first person to walk on the Moon, but was certainly not the last.
Armstrong passed away just over a year ago. During his life, he was many things: Eagle Scout, Air Force pilot, college professor, and cartoon voice actor. Luckily, he was never called on to be a dentist.
There has never been a dentist in space, but that will likely change in the future. The round trip from the Earth to the Moon and back took Armstrong less than nine days. Today, most tours on the International Space Station last less than six months, which, coincidentally, is how often you should go between visits to the dentist. There are plans for year-long tours to test the effects of living in space on an astronaut’s body. A trip to Mars and back could take as long as two years.
Dental care is very important to astronauts. Tumbling about in zero gravity offers all sorts of unexpected opportunities to bang your teeth into things. In addition, launching into space puts the entire body of an astronaut under extreme stress. The agonies of bad teeth under those conditions would be unbearable!
The ISS carries simple tools for handling small, emergency dental procedures. A trip to Mars might require a full suite of dental tools, along with a dental professional who knows how to use them. Do you think your kids care dentist would be a good astronaut?