What constitutes a dental emergency? In our office it includes toothaches, injuries to the mouth, abscesses, and even a chipped front tooth that is embarrassing. Our patients decide. If you think it's an emergency and requires urgent dental care, that's how we're going to handle it.
Salt Lake City Dentist Blog
Charlie Sheen has given the media endless hours of material over the past weeks with his wild rants and erratic behavior. Unable to escape the spotlight... his teeth. There are many reports and some photos suggest that Charlie Sheen’s teeth are losing the battle against his drug abuse. His are visibly worn, black and decayed or missing. The likely cause of is unsightly smile is drug abuse. It is the professional opinion of Dr. Jonathan Campbell that Charlie Sheen is likely wearing a prosthetic device to snaps over his rotting teeth. There are some photos and interviews where Sheen is shown without this prosthesis and his appearance is alarming.
Unfortunately, the tragic results of drug abuse are not something we escape seeing at Legacy Dental. We often treat patients whose dental health has paid the price of their drug use and abuse. The effects of drugs on the teeth are both psychological and physiological. Drug users are unlikely to value oral health rituals when under the influence and they tend to turn to high calorie, carbonated and sugary drinks when they are using. The physiological effects include dry mouth, clenching or grinding of the teeth and decreased blood flow. Dry mouth contributes to tooth decay, because saliva acts as a "buffer" against acid. Decreased salivary flow significantly increases a patient’s risk of tooth decay. Clenching and grinding may lead to worn and broken teeth. Decreased blood flow can affect the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth contributing to gum (periodontal) disease. Drugs such as methamphetamines are made with a dangerous mix of chemicals: bleach, drain cleaner, battery acid, gun cleaning solvents and gasoline additives are just a few of these harmful chemicals. None of which are meant for consumption and all of which are incredibly harmful to the teeth.
Back to Sheen, all of these chemicals are certainly able to "melt your face off" and likely to melt your teeth off, figuratively speaking. Even Sheen's Tiger's Blood is not a cure for tooth destruction caused by drug abuse. Adonis' DNA cannot escape it. I admit that I have soaked up many of the interviews with Sheen in pure disbelief, I have used and continue to use many of his outrageous quotes and engaged in water cooler conversation about his behavior. But as I took a step back to write this article, I was truly sad for Sheen. I am sad for his children, family and the people who love him. I am sad for the all those who are being held in the grips of this deadly addiction. I hope for all of those people the gift of sobriety and happiness without drug use.
Today I had an interesting emergency dental patient. This patient came in with severe swelling of his left cheek. His lower eyelid was swollen. So much that his eye was almost swollen shut. This condition is called cellulitis or an abscess. In this area of the face there are veins that don't have very good valves and they allow blood to flow in both directions. One of the directions leads to the brain. So it is possible for this type of infection to actually spread to a patient's brain. Untreated it can be life-threatening. We drained the infection by beginning a root canal. I expect that this patient's swelling and pain will resolve in a couple of days and then we can complete the treatment on this tooth and things will turn out just fine.
This past week NPR on "All Things Considered" aired the following story. The moderator and guest poke fun at the disparity between dentists when interpreting x-rays and suggest that the diagnosis of a cavity is done solely for financial gain. This is dangerous journalism. Many people die each year from untreated cavities. Many more miss work and school from pain and infection caused by untreated cavities. Cavities are progressive and advancing diseases that left untreated lead to more complex and expensive treatment with more potential for unexpected, life-affecting, and life-threatening outcomes. Ignoring a cavity is unwise.
Toothaches and abscessed teeth can be nearly impossible to ignore and your best bet is to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. However, sometimes it can be difficult to make arrangements to be seen right away. So what can you do?
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