Last few weeks, when we got a case about a patient who suffered from dental caries due to poor oral hygiene, everyone was like, “hey, I’m a future doctor not a future dentist. Did they give us the wrong paper?”. But actually we’re so wrong. Even a tooth infection can be life threatening if left untreated.
Dental caries is an infectious microbiologic disease of the teeth that results in localized dissolution and destruction of the calcified tissue. Treatments are by removing the infective caries, placing appropriate pulpal medications and restoring lesions in the most expedient manner and bear in mind that prognosis for this disease is actually good.
But, without a proper treatment as well as poor hygiene, for example like the patient in our case who neglected to come for follow up, the infection can spread into the deeper part of the teeth as well as the soft tissue of the mouth especially when the 2nd and 3rd molars are involved. At this point, the disease is known as Submandibular Space Infection or Ludwig’s angina.
Symptoms of Submandibular Space Infection include pain, dysphagia, drooling, trismus, stridor and potentially fatal airway obstruction. Treatment for early stages is IV antibiotics but advanced infections, however, require the airway to be secured and surgical drainage. Yet, without proper treatment, it can lead to death because this infection is rapidly spreading and can go as far as mediastinum to cause respiratory distress.
See, even a small thing like dental caries can actually cause death if we always take things for granted. Thus people don’t forget to go and see your dentist every 6 months as recommended. 🙂