There has always been an urgent need to observe proper hygiene, but the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified this, with the wearing of face masks, keeping two metres away from other people, and regularly washing our hands being zealously encouraged.
These are all good at mitigating the risk of infection, but the problem with the focus on the COVID-19 pandemic is that it becomes easy to overlook other dangers, some of which may even occur at home.
A prime example of such a problem is a toothache. Compared to the lethality of the coronavirus, it’s easy to dismiss a toothache as an inconvenience rather than a cause for concern. However, this could be a potentially life-threatening mistake.
Why is a Toothache a Cause for Concern?
Like all sensations of pain, a toothache is an indication that there is something wrong with your tooth or gums. It should also be noted that a toothache is sometimes merely a referred pain, which means that the source of the pain is somewhere else in your body. Whatever the case may be, pain will always be indicative of a bodily problem.
Toothaches vary in intensity and they are usually non-life-threatening. However, when the pain is unbearable and stubborn (lasts more than a day), you might need to pay closer attention to your tooth, or better yet, have your dentist check your teeth.
Why Are Toothaches Potentially Dangerous?
Toothaches, as previously established, are not dangerous in and of themselves, but rather, they are indicative of much bigger problems with your oral health. Some of these diseases and conditions may include:
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria from food residue clings to your teeth. This bacteria then produces acid that dissolves the enamel in your tooth. However, this process is not one that is rapid. Rather, for this to happen, there must have been food residue left in your mouth long enough for the food to rot.
By medical definition, an infection occurs when a foreign body enters the human body. This point of entry can come in the form of a break in the skin or through ingestion. In this case, when a pathogen develops from food residue, that is considered ingestion, and thus an infection.
The most dangerous aspect of an infection lies in its ability to spread throughout your body. In fact, there has been at least one case where a man died because an infection spread from tooth decay and into his blood and lungs.
An abscess is the worsening of an infection to a point where the area around the point of infection begins to swell. The swelling then starts to leak pus from the root. The real danger here lies in the risk that the infection might spread to your brain through the spinal cord.
Once an infection reaches the brain, it can cause irreparable damage and it may even lead to death.
Can These Diseases Be Prevented?
We can prevent dental issues in the same way that we can avoid a score of other medical conditions and illnesses: through proper hygiene and regular trips to your dentist. You don’t even have to shoulder these costs on your own, since many companies offer dental insurance that covers checkups, cleanings, and many other treatments.
Brush your teeth regularly, floss properly, and gargle for good measure. These are simple but effective measures that prevent bigger problems from taking root in your mouth. This is especially important if you’re unable to see your dentist because of the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
Toothaches, like any kind of bodily pain, should never be ignored. They are an indication that there’s something wrong in your body that needs to be addressed. These pains are insidious, and may seem as bad as they actually are, but with a bit of proper hygiene and vigilance, you can get prompt treatment and may even prevent these problems from becoming life-threatening.