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Can Ignoring a Toothache Potentially be a Fatal Mistake?

March 15, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — healthymuskegon @ 12:23 pm

woman suffering toothache in Muskegon

Many people will experience a toothache in Muskegon at some point in their life. Typically, the pain forces them to contact a dentist for an emergency appointment. In some instances, the pain subsides, prompting people to postpone receiving dental care. Not only can this lead to tooth loss, but it could also place a person’s life in jeopardy. Continue reading to find out how!

What You Should Know About Tooth Pain

When a tooth hurts, it’s your body’s way of alerting you of a growing problem. Usually, the culprit is oral bacteria that have made their way to the core of the tooth (called the pulp) where the canals and nerves lie. To put things into perspective, the pulp is the only living portion of the tooth, which means that it’s also part of a network that permeates your entire body.

The Danger of an Abscessed Tooth

A tooth infection that is ignored for too long can eventually develop into an abscess, which is a collection of bacteria that form a painful pus. The pus continues to grow in size by damaging the underlying and adjacent tissues. Untreated, an abscess can eventually burst and travel to other parts of the body.

Here are some of the life-threatening issues that can arise:


This occurs when bacteria from the infected tooth enters the bloodstream. This weakens the immune system and leaves you susceptible to simple infections. Some of the warning signs of sepsis are fever and a rapid heartbeat.

Respiratory Issues

If bacteria enter the lungs, there can be breathing issues. This is especially dangerous, given that the lungs are a prime breeding ground for bacteria to multiply rapidly and exponentially.


The decreased immune function associated with an abscess that has traveled throughout the body increases the chances of developing meningitis. A viral, bacterial or fungal infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, meningitis is a rare condition that claims around 500 lives annually.

Ludwig’s Angina

If the infection spreads to the throat and chest region, there can be swelling, inhibited breathing, difficulty swallowing, and in some cases, death by self-suffocation.

Recognizing the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth

The moment you notice a toothache, you should immediately reach out to a dentist to request an emergency visit. If the symptoms are ignored and the situation develops into a severe infection, you’ll need to seek emergency care from a physician.

Here are some of the warning signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Skin flushing
  • Darker urine
  • Facial swelling
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Reduction in the frequency of urination

As with any type of emergency, the sooner you can recognize the symptoms and receive care, the better off you’ll be. By taking swift action and seeking the necessary treatment from a local emergency dentist, you could save your tooth and your life as well!

About the Author

Dr. Steven Rodriguez is a graduate of the University of Michigan. An avid learner who believes in the value of continuing education, he has received state-of-the-art training in a number of different specialties, which includes endodontic (root canal) treatment. Dr. Rodriguez helps patients overcome tooth infections at Healthy Smiles Dental Care, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.

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