One of the most common misconceptions is that dental infections can only infect your mouth. A lot of people think, "it's only a broken tooth, I can just live with the pain or I will get to it eventually." Recently hospitals have been seeing an increase in hospitalizations from tooth abscesses. Hundreds of thousands of people show up in the emergency room every year with a toothache that has spread out of control. A bottom tooth can cause such severe swelling that it can block your airway causing suffocation. When the swellings become this severe it requires hospitalization, and several days if not weeks to months of antibiotics and is life threatening.
What happens if this goes untreated?
If left untreated, infections from the teeth can spread to the brain, heart, and the rest of the body! Some of these infections have even lead to death. When a tooth becomes infected, the infection from the root travels into the blood supply thus causing a bacteremia (infection of blood by bacteria.) The blood vessels in your face connect to the brain and the rest of your body. If you have an artificial joint (hip, knee, etc.) the infection can spread to that joint (see my previous blog post on seeing a dentist before a joint replacement for more info). Bottom line, if you are experiencing tooth pain, any type of swelling, or bad taste in your mouth make sure you get it evaluated by a dentist and don't wait till it spreads. See the articles below for more information.