You probably don’t need to be convinced that regular dental care is important to the function and aesthetic of your teeth. But maybe you don’t realize it’s so much more important than that.
There are very specific dental dangers that – if left untreated – can, not only be harmful to your dental health, they can be downright dangerous as well!
Do you have a chronic degenerative disease? Been told it’s “all in your head”? That may be true! It might be time to get your mouth a really good, thorough, checkup.
Sometimes, there may be issues in your mouth that can go horribly wrong making you very sick and can even sometimes result in death.
Dental amalgam – the material commonly used for filling cavities in modern dental history – is made up of 43 – 54% mercury. While amalgam fillings have traditionally been referred to as “silver fillings”, actually only a very small portion is this semi-precious metal.
Amalgam, unfortunately, is not stable in the mouth and a small portion of mercury vapor is released naturally over time and when you chew. This mercury accumulates and can become toxic in the body.
Think about it – mercury is a neurotoxin and when used in fillings, is very close to the brain. Children, pregnant women, the immunosuppressed, and the elderly, are groups especially sensitive to the effects of this mercury vapor. In fact, the vapor released from mercury fillings has been suggested in emotional disorders and possibly, related to Alzheimer’s.
Because of this, in 2010, the US Food & Drug Administration advisory panel on dental amalgam warned against using amalgam fillings in these populations.
Today, there are much better choices for filling cavities, such as composites and glass ionomers.
Tooth abscesses can be very dangerous if not treated. An abscess is a pocket of pus that develops due to an infection in the mouth and can be found at many different places on the tooth. A tooth abscess will not go away on it’s own. That’s why it’s so important to treat an abscessed tooth as soon as it develops.
An abscess in the tooth can be created by an untreated cavity or mouth injury, making proper dental care even more imperative. The symptoms of an abscess are tooth hot / cold sensitivity, sensitivity to pressure, severe toothache, fever, facial swelling, and / or swollen lymph nodes in the neck and jaw area.
If you ever notice a rush of bad-tasting fluid in your mouth, followed by relief of pain, a dental abscess has likely ruptured. A non-ruptured abscess will be drained by a dentist.
In general, any time you have or suspect a dental abscess, a dentist should be consulted. The bacteria from an abscess can too-easily move to the brain or blood of the infected person, causing sepsis or meningitis. Both of these – sepsis and meningitis – are potentially-life-threatening bacterial infections (sepsis – blood; meningitis – brain) that almost always require hospitalization and carry a rather high mortality (death) rate.
Another possible complication of an untreated abscess is Ludwig’s Angina. This illness closes off the airway, causing the patient to literally suffocate. A brain abscess is also possible and is a risk that – if realized – will require full brain surgery to drain.
In our next article, we will pick back up with two additional dental dangers that may scare you straight to your dentist, pronto!