A couple of months ago, I learned of a 24-year-old man from Cincinnati who had died from a toothache. While of course any death is a tragedy, for me it’s especially difficult to hear of situations like this because they are so preventable. Apparently, the man had been told that an infected tooth needed to be pulled. He did not, however, follow through with his dentist’s recommendation. Shortly after visiting his dentist, he started getting headaches and his face began to swell. Finally, he visited a hospital emergency room where the doctor prescribed antiobiotics and pain medication. However, he felt that due to financial pressures, he had to make a choice between the two prescriptions, and chose the latter – the pain medication. While this kept his pain under control, it did not stop the infection from spreading and ending up in his brain whichultimately killed him.
While you may feel that a visit to the dentist can be a frightening experience, it can pale in comparison to the consequences of not going. And, rest assured that for the faint of heart, there are many options available to you that can help alleviate your fear and anxiety including nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and taking anxiety-targetting medications like Ativan, which your dentist can prescribe.
Steven Deskin is a Dentist in general practice.