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Ignoring a dental infection could have fatal consequences, Reader's Digest has warned.
It tells the story of Ken Michener, who had sporadic tooth pain for months but only went to the dentist when the pain became intense.
An oral surgeon extracted his infected molar and gave him some antibiotics, but Mr Michener ended up being rushed to hospital after his face swelled up so badly that it put pressure on his airway, leaving him unable to speak, eat or breathe properly.
The publication admits that examples of a runaway dental infection as extreme as this are rare, but reveals that untreated infections have eaten through the skin in people's necks before, or spread to the heart and brain.
It reports that although overall oral health has improved in the US over the last few decades, with incidences of mild gum disease (gingivitis) down by about 40 per cent, a third of Americans aged over 30 still have serious gum disease (periodontitis), while 90 per cent have some tooth decay.
Researchers at the American Academy of Periodontology have found that people with gum disease are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease that those with healthy mouths, according to the Arizona Republic.
© 2008 Brafton Inc.
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