If you or your children need a reminder that your oral health is a direct and vital link to your overall health, and that good daily dental hygiene and regular dental checkups are important, consider the recent story of a man who nearly died due to tooth decay.
While the case detailed here is extreme, regular dental exams and at-home preventive care are critical to your long-term health. If you’re seeking a knowledgeable, compassionate dentist in the Austin, Texas, area please call 512-452-2273 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Dan Matthews.
Tooth Decay and Your General Health
According to an article in the The Olympian, an Olympia, Wash., man almost lost his life after bacteria from a decaying molar spread into his sinuses. The man initially suffered severe headaches, followed by seizures and a rupture in his skull.
Without treatment, the bacteria that lead to cavities can also cause abscesses, infections that penetrate the root of a tooth. These and other infections can then spread throughout the body.
The man in this particular case suffered from osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone or bone marrow. He required two surgeries to repair the bone and restore some jaw and bite functionality.
Preventing Tooth Decay
You’ve heard the clichés: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, the best offense is a good defense, etc. When it comes to maintaining a healthy smile, the sayings are true: The best way to protect your pearly whites—and your general health—is with quality preventive care.
This includes brushing your teeth at least twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Brushing should be followed at least once a day by flossing, either with dental tape or floss picks, to remove food particles that can linger in hard-to-reach places between the teeth. After brushing and flossing, you should flush your mouth with water; you may also wish to rinse with an antiseptic, antibacterial mouthwash.
At-home dental hygiene should be supported by regular checkups with your dentist, usually once or twice per year depending on your age and oral health.
Signs You Need to See a Dentist
While tooth decay can lead to life-threatening infections if left unchecked, it rarely comes to that; the man in the article mentioned here had long neglected his dental care. Indicators that you should visit your dentist include:
- Teeth have become consistently sensitive to heat and cold
- A tooth that feels painful or appears cracked, chipped or otherwise broken
- Gums bleed when you brush or floss
- You have chronic bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth
- You have difficulty chewing or swallowing
- You have persistent dry mouth
- You have an open sore in your mouth that does not go away
Austin dentist Dr. Dan Matthews is dedicated to helping patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles for life. Please contact Dan Matthews, DDS, online or call 512-452-2273 to schedule your appointment.