An abscessed tooth generally has one of two causes. A periodontal abscess will appear in the supporting area between the gum and the tooth and is also known as a “gum boil”. It can also start at the center of the tooth (a periapical abscess) due to the enamel being eroded by decay, which allows bacteria to reach the middle of the tooth and, at its most advanced, the nerve. Both conditions can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics and – with nerve involvement – with a root canal.
Last month a 31-year-old man from Cincinnati passed away from complications arising from an abscessed tooh. He had delayed dental treatment due to finances, and he believed he had a minor sinus infection. Unfortunately it was a tooth infection, which infected his blood. He underwent open heart surgery, which was unsuccessful in saving him.
Another fatality occurred in 2011 when a 24-year-old single father, also living in Cincinnati, opted for pain medication for a tooth infection instead of antibiotics due to finances. The bacteria from his abscessed tooth spread to his brain and caused his death.
In both cases, what should have been a matter of simple prevention became lethal. In the first instance there was the additional complication of mistaking a tooth infection for a sinus infection. 10-12% of sinus infections actually originate in the teeth, and the percentage may actually be higher.
The American Academy of Oral Systemic Health reported a recent case study in St. Louis Missouri in which 100 free dental screenings were done for patients who thought they had chronic sinus infections. According to Dr. Sindelar, who performed the screenings, “75% of them had failing upper molars, either with broken down, decayed, abscessed, secondary abscessed, or split teeth that the patient was unaware of…. What is assumed by the patient to be a sinus infection quite often is a symptom, not an actual sinus condition.”
Carey O’Rielly DDS has been a practicing dentist for 35 years. He went to USC Dental School and Duke University for his undergraduate degree. He grew up in Laguna Beach and now lives in La Costa with his wife Victoria, who runs his office.
He began his career by owning and operating a network of six offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Presently he owns a private holistic practice in North County San Diego’s Encinitas.
Dr. O started looking for solutions to his health challenges that resulted from the stress and environmental toxicity that built up over a ten year period running his dental network. He has dedicated himself to learning about oral systemic problems and how dentistry can affect your health. He has applied what he has learned over the last twenty years to ensure he, his staff and his patients are protected from the chemicals and toxic materials found in most dental offices. He has produced an environmentally friendly office that is also peaceful and calm.
He is an expert on dental materials having looked at hundreds of biocompatibility lab tests over the years. He has identified the most bio-friendly materials to use in his practice and which dental materials can be used to replace metal fillings and crowns, including BPA free and fluoride free ‘white’ fillings. He also uses metal-free Zirconia or ceramic implants and PRF (platelet-rich fibrin) grafting materials which come from the patient’s own blood.
Dr. O’Rielly teaches C.E. courses on the systemic effects of gum disease. He is an expert in using phase contrast microscopy for analyzing dental infections, where he shows patients what kind of microbes, i.e. bacteria, amoeba, and yeasts like candida are populating the mouth and affecting the body as a whole.
He has an educational blog and is writing a book on dental health called ‘Hidden Dental Infections: Healing Root Canals and Infected Teeth with the Erbium Laser’ where he discusses dental nutrition, toxic dental materials and the effects of old root canals on inflammation and overall health.