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  #1  
Old 06-01-2008, 04:58 PM
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Spiral Spiral is offline
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Default How Your Dentist Can Save Your Life

Ken Michener's tooth had been hurting off and on for months, and the pain was intense one Monday night in August. So Michener, 31, of Naperville, Illinois, who worked night shifts at a company that manufactures vitamins and dietary supplements, left at 3 a.m., halfway through his shift. At home, he tossed and turned. By the next afternoon, he'd found an oral surgeon to pull his sore molar, and started taking antibiotics to beat the bacterial infection and reduce the swelling. They did neither. By Friday, Michener was still hurting, and his left cheek bulged. At a local hospital, his oral surgeon removed another tooth, drained some pus, gave him painkillers and more antibiotics, and checked him into intensive care.

By the following Monday, when Michener was rushed by ambulance to Loyola University Medical Center, in suburban Chicago, his cheek was so swollen that he couldn't open his left eye. The infection had invaded the muscles that open the jaw, causing his jaw to clamp shut. It had also spread to Michener's neck and was squeezing his airway. He couldn't open his mouth, couldn't speak and, despite a breathing tube designed to help, struggled to draw each breath.

Few mouth infections grow as menacing as Michener's. But runaway dental infections can be treacherous. They have eaten through the skin in people's necks, choked off airways, migrated to the heart, burrowed into brains and, yes, even killed people.

Have we scared you enough yet? Here's the point: Everyone is vulnerable, because bacteria that routinely lurk in the mouth cause tooth decay and gum disease. The problem: Most people don't know they have these infections. They often cause no pain and few symptoms, but can lead to far worse. Gum disease may also heighten the risk for heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia and premature birth, according to recent clinical trials. But the good news is that with good old regular brushing and flossing, you may prevent all that. And by seeing your dentist often, you can nip most problems in the bud.

Regular dental checkups can pay off in other ways too. For example, dentists can spot signs of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, along with a variety of rare skin and autoimmune diseases. Since people typically visit their dentists more often than they visit other doctors, that can lead to early diagnosis and early treatment. All of which means that your dentist can do much more than save your teeth and gums. Your dentist can save your life.

An Oral Epidemic
Americans have brighter smiles than ever before, thanks to ubiquitous teeth-whitening systems. But behind those gleaming smiles, all is not well. Oral health has improved some in recent decades: More kids are being treated with dental sealants; the incidence of mild gum disease (gingivitis) has decreased about 40 percent since the 1960s; and untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth has decreased slightly since the late 1980s, according to an August report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But here's the bad news: One in three Americans over age 30 still have more advanced gum disease known as periodontitis; more than nine in ten Americans have at least some tooth decay; and nearly three in ten adults over 65 have no teeth at all.

Not getting enough fluoride may be part of the problem. One in three Americans live in communities with insufficient fluoride in their drinking water, and bottled and filtered water often contain little fluoride. Also, 108 million Americans don't have dental insurance. In fact, one in five low-income children and adolescents have untreated tooth decay, a level twice that of their more affluent peers. Oral disease is still widespread in this country because the will and the money to reduce it have not been there. The result, according to a 2000 Surgeon General's report, is a "silent epidemic" of oral disease that threatens the health of Americans.

Runaway Infections
In the operating room at Loyola University Medical Center, oral surgeon Mark Steinberg and two residents made two small incisions inside Michener's cheek and three on his neck; then they installed flat rubber tubes in each to drain pus. They made a slice the width of a nickel through Michener's neck into his windpipe, and inserted a six-inch-long curved plastic tracheostomy tube that allowed him to breathe.

Michener remained in intensive care for two more days and in the hospital for the rest of the week. His massive infection began receding. "It was lonely," Michener remembers. "You couldn't talk. You couldn't move. You couldn't sleep." Nurses suctioned mucus from his windpipe for four days so he could breathe. "You didn't want to fall asleep and gag to death, so you had little catnaps and that was it."

Infections like Michener's are rare, but not exceedingly so. Between 1996 and 2001, physicians at San Francisco General Hospital, a large public hospital, treated 157 patients with runaway tooth infections that had eaten into their jaws, faces and necks. All the patients recovered. Still, "patients who get a big dental abscess -- well, they can die from it," cautions M. Anthony Pogrel, DDS, MD, co-author of the study and chairman of the oral and maxillofacial surgery department at the University of California, San Francisco.
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Old 05-02-2009, 08:29 AM
srachel srachel is offline
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Really Dentist Can Save Life.

Dental cleanings also save some serious heart disease, cancer and occasionally, you might hear how dental procedures saved a life.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:23 AM
mischa.porter mischa.porter is offline
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Default True!

I couldn't agree more! Dentist can definitely save your life! According to studies, our dental health is connected or affected by our overall health and vice versa. Our dentists keep on telling us to take care of our oral health.

Regular dental visits are important because our dentist can examine the status of our dental health. They can help us in prevention as well. I like your topic, it's very informative! Keep it up!
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Old 07-01-2009, 12:08 PM
rickygips rickygips is offline
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This is something everyone should know. I, myself, was shocked at first knowing that I am also in a vulnerable state with this kind of illness/problem affecting all people.
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:04 AM
cdef028
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Question Don't pass up a golden opportunity

Don't pass up a golden opportunity.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:36 AM
MarkTaylor MarkTaylor is offline
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It is true that Dentist Can Save Life.
But I 100% agree with mischa too.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:37 AM
montyhar2 montyhar2 is offline
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Hi,
My goodness,this is really dangerous.I had never thought about this before that the infection can extent up to such a limit.It's better to have regular check ups to the dentist rather than having this.Your post will really help others too.Thanks for giving such a nice information.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:34 PM
algernonrich algernonrich is offline
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I am simply agree with you,A visit to your dentist for a dental screening examination is as important as having the annual medical examinations until, according to experts Fremont dental decay. Your dentist, they say, could very well be the person that could save your life.
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Old 01-04-2011, 05:32 PM
stevesmillers stevesmillers is offline
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Regular visits to the dentist are important because our dentist can examine the status of our dental health. They can help us in preventing this. I like your topic, it is very informative! Keep it up!
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Old 01-27-2011, 03:45 PM
jamespearl jamespearl is offline
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I look forward to your blog almost every day. I must say that the link helped me a lot. You see, I am applying for dental school this summer. I struggled in recent weeks to write a personal statement. This article has given me so much stuff to talk about freaky.
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