Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teeth Infections

I wanted to talk about this. I know there's a lot of people who like to use folk remedies and alternative treatments but when it comes to teeth I need to give people a warning.

I once had an infected tooth that I left untreated for 2 years. I tried clove oil, peroxide, and other home remedies to try to east the pain. It wasn't a 24/7 pain, but every couple of weeks or so it would hurt and hurt to the point where I could not eat or sleep. I would just tough it out until the pain diminished. The only think I found that temporarily took the pain away was to hold cool water in my mouth, so I would often be spotted carrying around a glass with me everywhere I went. Finally, it got to the point where I was experiencing fainting episodes. I didn't actually faint but I would have to grab something or some one nearby as I felt like I was going to go unconscious. I then realized the tooth had to come out and fast. So I finally got that tooth removed. The dentist told me that I could have died, that the infection had eaten about an inch wide pocket into the bone and that if it had spread to my blood I could have quickly died from a heart attack or stroke.

So that knowledge intrigued me and I began looking up information online. My dentist was absolutely right. There is a correlation between heart disease and tooth infections. Then I found out that the actor who played Lorne on the series Angel died from an infected wisdom tooth. The news reports had indicated he died of heart failure but they failed to report that it was caused by an infected wisdom tooth when the infection spread to his heart. Then a local new celebrity died of the exact same thing. He had an infected tooth that he kept putting off. The infection spread to his heart and he died. Finally, a few months ago there was a news story of a single father who had an infected tooth. He didn't have much money so he chose to keep putting off the extraction and simply took pain pills. He too then died of heart failure when the infection spread.

So please keep this warning. Don't put off treatment for an infected tooth. In generations past, infected teeth and teeth pain were not viewed as being potentially life-threatening. In the past they didn't even prescribe antibiotics when a tooth had to be pulled. Now we know better that it actually can kill you if you put it off long enough. So please find a way to get proper dental treatment if you know or believe that you have an infected tooth.


  1. doc, thank you so much for posting this VERY important message!...i volunteer at a free dental clinic for underprivileged children and just recently, a little boy came in with a horrible, horrible infection that his parents had ignored for nearly a MONTH!...the parents had the money to take a vacation but not to get help for their child and the dentist had a very difficult time holding the little boy down as he was screaming and crying in excruciating pain!--i had to walk away as i was crying, too--i was shook up!...it took (4) people to hold the little boy down...the dentist gave the father a very stern message and hopefully he understands how dangerous an infected tooth can be! (the little boy is doing well, now)...thank you, again, doc, for getting the word out! :)

  2. @ K,

    It's always sad when children have teeth problems. I hope that it was just a baby tooth and that it didn't effect his adult teeth.

  3. yes, it is sad and yes, it was a primary molar...a good life lesson for the parents and for the little boy...an old saying: "be true to your teeth, or they will be false to you"!...doc, i am sorry that you suffered for so long and i am glad that it was caught in time! :)

  4. A lot of communities have low cost dental clinics but people rarely have the information they need to go to them ahead of time. When you're in pain is not when you want to be filling out paperwork.

    I'm glad you're okay and you're recovering Doc.

  5. @ K,

    Thank you.

    @ Wendy,

    Yes, there are also dental schools that offer their services at up to half what a normal dentist would cost. Sometimes one may even get a sliding pay-scale depending on your income. The only problem is that most of the dental schools have long waiting lists. I checked into them years back and there was a 6 month waiting list for the one in my area. Also, people need to realize that fillings are not forever. I too just assumed they would last a lifetime. Another filling just fell out today. Bummer. Fillings, especially the older one can last 10 to 20 years before they fall out. And when they fall out one needs to go get it taken care of as soon as possible and not to wait until an infection sets in or further decay happens.

  6. Sorry about all your teeth problems lately. Some dentists will let you set up pre-payment arrangements or let you pre date a check, I've had to do this for appointments that hit in between pay checks and I think I will have to for when I get my molars taken out which I've been dreading.

  7. @ L.M. Tea,

    Yeah, they tried to go into that whole tal on getting a root canal. I was like, did you not hear me? My tooth is completely split in half! LOL Then she saw it and was like, well, it doesn't show up on the x-ray. But yeah, most dentists offer payment plans.

  8. I have a whole in my tooth all the way down to the root. The dentist refuse to pull it (which is 200), but want to give me a root canal (which is several thousand). I have no insurance, single mom barely getting by and I walk around with a whole in my mouth, bc the dentist are greedy as s&%t.

    What dentist are allowed to get away with is wrong. Everyday I clean this whole out and use mouth wash, praying it wont get infected.

  9. @ Benita,

    Go to a different dentist. Dentists will try to save a tooth when necessary compared to in the past where the pulled teeth for nearly any problem. However, you are the patient and are the one in control and if you can't afford a root canal then they should pull the tooth, so go to another dentist. Also, what they don't tell you is that even if you get a root canal you have to get it capped or else the hole will still be there. Also, even with a root canal there is still the possibility that the tooth will break in the future and if the break is sever enough you will still have to have it removed. Root canals do not prevent infection. Instead they pretty much just kill the nerve so there is no pain.

    If you have any pain in the tooth then you probably have an infection. Don't wait until you have full blown infect because tooth pain is the worst pain ever. It will keep you up all night and prevent you from eating properly. Some claim that tooth pain is worse than giving birth.

    If this is your first tooth extraction then take my word on this. You will want the gas in addition to the shots.

  10. I lived with a mouth of broken teeth through my twenties. Not an attractive look for a young female. I was in hideous pain and I'm lucky to be alive. Now I visit the dentist regularly even though it's too expensive for me. I get my cleanings every six months and my xrays every year plus my cancer screening.

    When I find out that someone has a toothache I cannot stress enough to them how important it is for them to get it taken care of, but people would rather spend their money on drugs or new iphones or whatever rather than take care of themselves. I always tell them "Your body is your temple."

    1. So sorry to hear that but I'm glad you had it taken care of. I know that teeth pain is horrible.