A Toothache Can Turn Deadly

Posted by DrSimmons | Filed under , , , ,

     A Toothache Can Turn Deadly


     It's hard to imagine how a toothache could turn deadly - but it can and has.  Even mild discomfort (pain while chewing, sensitivity to hot or cold, or redness and swelling) can quickly turn into a potentially serious condition.  The first stage is  an abscess, a pus-filled infection inside the tooth or between a tooth and the gum.  At first pain may merely be annoying, but within a day or so, it can turn into the intense, throbbing pain that is the telltale sign of an abscess.  The number of Americans hospitalized for dental abscesses has increased by more than 40%. If not treated the bacteria in the abscesses can spread into the bloodstream, the consequences of which can be fatal.  Dr. Gerald’s cousin, by marriage, died from a brain infection caused by an untreated abscessed upper canine.

      If there's a breach in a tooth's protective enamel - from tooth decay, a chip or even gum disease - you're at risk for an abscess.  Some cracks can be taken care of with bonding or a crown.  But if bacteria travels down the crack and into the tooth, an abscess can form, and a root canal will be needed.

      Other Signs to watch for:  In addition to the symptoms described above, other red flags of an abscess may include persistent foul breath, a swollen face, jaw and/or neck glands, and a fever.  (Some people have described the pain as the worst they've ever experienced).

      Get help immediately - An abscess will not go away on its own.  Worse, the infection can spread as quickly as overnight.  An abscess can even cause death if untreated if the infection spreads to the brain or heart or causes neck swelling that cuts off the airway.

      When to be especially suspicious:  If you have a pain in one of your back teeth.  They're the ones that do most of the chewing, and they're the ones that are harder to reach to brush and floss.  If you crunch something hard, such as popcorn, ice, or even an almond, a back tooth is the one most likely to be cracked.

   Treatment of an Abscess

  *****   You may require antibiotics if the infection has spread beyond the tooth..

*****     Incision and draining.  If the abscess is between the tooth and the gum, your dentist will make a small incision, drain the pus, and clean the area.  Afterwards the tooth will still require additional treatment.

***** Root canal - This is the most widely used treatment for an abscess near the tooth root. 

***** Extraction - This is the most permanent treatment for a deep abscess.

 If you cannot see a dentist go immediately to the ER.  Here atSimmons Dental we have a 24 hour, 7 day a week answering service where you get to talk to a real life human being who can put you in contact with one of our doctors.   

Your Gentle Dentists,

Dr. Simmons