Toothaches are a real pain to deal with, but it might surprise you to learn that the discomfort they can cause doesn't necessarily stay in the mouth. When you have a dental problem that leads to an infection in the gums or tooth, it can travel to other parts of the body. Here's what you need to know about this phenomenon.
How It Starts
Believe it or not, there are known cases of this happening. One man was in danger of losing his life due to endocarditis, a type of heart disease, simply because he'd been poking at a piece of popcorn stuck between his teeth. If teeth or gums are jabbed with a foreign object, it can allow bacteria to get inside and cause a significant infection. This infection, however, doesn't necessarily stay in the gums. It can move throughout the body once it accesses the body's blood circulatory system.
Where It Ends Up
Bacteria that make it to the circulatory system can go just about anywhere. There's evidence that bacteria from the mouth can cause problems for the kidneys and brain, for starters, but in this particular case, it caused a form of heart disease. While the body's immune system does try to fight these bacteria, if they're constantly flooding in from the mouth, the immune system can't keep up with them. As a result, the tissues those bacteria come into contact with can cause significant infections and tissue damage that can be dangerous to the whole body.
What to Do
If there's something wrong with your mouth, even if it's as simple as a piece of food stuck between your teeth that you can't dislodge, it's time to see a dentist.
Your dentist will be able to help you by resolving whatever problem you have, like getting the food out from between your teeth. Then, if there's evidence of an infection, they'll give you antibiotics to help beat it so that you don't have bacteria flooding your circulatory system.
By going to the dentist early on, you're protecting your whole body from a potential, real threat.
Dental problems don't always stay where they start. Even if you think it's no big deal, it's better to go to the dentist's office to get help than to try and take care of it yourself or to ignore it. Don't let this poor guy's story happen to you. Visit a dentist anytime you think there's a problem with your oral health.