From the Surgeon General’s report, Oral Health in America, research has shown chronic oral infections can lead to heart and lung diseases, diabetes and stroke, premature births and low birth weights. Tooth decay and associated pain affect daily life for four to five million children and adults a year.
And instead of helping these people, we're increasing the financial pressures by cutting spending for the kinds of programs that could help. So people are being pushed to the brink and making really bad choices, forced to prioritize things they shouldn't have to:
A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn't afford his medication, offering a sobering reminder of the importance of oral health and the number of people without access to dental or health care.
According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis' wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.
When his face started swelling and his head began to ache, Willis went to the emergency room, where he received prescriptions for antibiotics and pain medications. Willis couldn't afford both, so he chose the pain medications.
The tooth infection spread, causing his brain to swell. He died Tuesday.
[...] "People don't realize that dental disease can cause serious illness," said Dr. Irvin Silverstein, a dentist at the University of California at San Diego. "The problems are not just cosmetic. Many people die from dental disease."
Willis' story is not unique. In 2007, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver also died when a tooth infection spread to his brain. The Maryland boy underwent two operations and six weeks of hospital care, totaling $250,000. Doctors said a routine $80 tooth extraction could have saved his life. His family was uninsured and had recently lost its Medicaid benefits, keeping Deamonte from having dental surgery.
"When people are unemployed or don't have insurance, where do they go? What do they do?" Silverstein said. "People end up dying, and these are the most treatable, preventable diseases in the world."