The word “tooth decay” may not sound alarming and often being ignored by many. But do you know that tooth decay is not as simple as it may sound, and in fact can be life threatening? Each tooth contains blood vessels allowing bacteria to access different parts of the body including the brain and the heart.
For better understanding, let’s first discuss what dental abscess is and how it develops from tooth decay.
Dental abscess is pus enclosed in the tissues of the jaw bone at the apex of an infected tooth’s root; it usually begins after a bacterial infection has accumulated in the pulp of the tooth. This is caused by tooth decay common in people with poor dental health occurring when the combination of food, saliva, and bacteria produce plaques as their by-product. Over time, plaques will demineralize the enamel creating a hole known as “cavity”.
Once the tooth has developed tooth decay, the bacterial will then dig deeper going through the enamel reaching the dentin, then the pulp where the nerves and blood vessels are enclosed. When the bacteria reach the pulp, the tissue within and the surrounding will be infected as well, causing dental abscess.
How Would You Know If It’s A Dental Abscess
The usual signs of dental abscess include:
- gum inflammation
- oral swelling
- nasty taste in the mouth secondary to pus drainage
- sometimes dysphagia or difficulty of swallowing
If left untreated, may be life threatening resulting to more serious problems affecting the brain, lungs, and heart. The bacteria may spread all over the mouth from the cheek, to the jaw bone, to the sinuses and throat which can be very painful, and can cause severe swelling that airway blockage may occur resulting to difficulty of breathing. Nerve damage is also common resulting to temporary numbness or worse permanent numbness of the face, mouth, and/or tongue.
The gravity of dental abscess can be very fatal. Abscess affecting the upper front tooth may extend to the sinus to the brain causing brain abscess paralysis or in some cases death. The heart may also become infected resulting to infective endocarditis extremely damaging the valves that surgery is often necessary to repair, or replace the damaged valve.
As the bacteria are released into the bloodstream, it will spread into the circulatory system which may cause “septic shock” causing multiple organ failure resulting to death. It may also reach the bones causing the very painful “osteomyelitis” wherein in some cases may result to permanent bone deficits.
The importance of “never” ignore a toothache can’t be emphasize enough to stress all the possible serious condition it may lead to. Though death may not be common due to the advancement in science, still early diagnosis and treatment likely have better outcome.