Dental diseases such as abscesses on the gum & periodontal disease can be deadly. These are the 7 most painful dental conditions ever.
7: Dental Abscess
A dental abscess is an infection inside the tooth or the gums that’s filled with pus. If not treated properly, it has the potential to turn deadly. While there are a few different types of abscesses, they generally all have similar symptoms. The pain involved with an abscess usually starts off mild, but can quickly become extremely painful. The pain has been described as a throbbing or shooting sensation. The area in question will also swell up & turn red. In more extreme cases, the abscess may spread to the bones & tissue near the teeth, which could cause swelling in the face or lymph glands on the neck. The pain will then spread to the side of the face near the toothache.
If a severe abscess were to go untreated, it could eventually spread internally to tissues & muscles near the infected area. This spread can lead to a dangerous condition known as Ludwig’s angina, or an infection occuring on the floor of the mouth. This disease can be deadly as it often restricts necessary airways. In fact, the name “angina” is derived from the Greek word “ankhon,” meaning “strangling.” In addition to feelings of being strangled, the face, neck, & head will also become infected.
It is even possible for people to die from an abscess. Famous fashion designer & notorious Nazi supporter Hugo Boss died from a tooth abcess in 1948. A 12-year-old boy named Deamonte Driver died from a tooth abscess as well when it spread to his brain. Despite two operations & six weeks in the hospital, his life could not be saved. The same thing happened in 2011 to 24-year-old Kyle Willis when the infection spread to his brain & caused it to swell. In the cases of both Driver & Willis, a delay in treatment was due to the fact that neither of them had health insurance.
6: Periodontal Gum Disease
Periodontal gum disease is the result when gingivitis goes untreated. It appears as inflammation & infection around the tooth & when severe enough, can cause tooth loss & damage to your bone structure. Once your gums are infected, they begin pulling away from the tooth. This space allows bacteria to form underneath the gums. It’ll then progress by badly damaging the bone structure under the gums & usually results in teeth falling out or being removed if not treated properly. Symptoms of periodontal gum disease include sensitive teeth, bleeding gums, swollen gums, loose teeth, & painful chewing. It is often the result of smoking, hormonal changes, or a byproduct of other diseases such as diabetes or even AIDS.
Edentulism is a condition in which one is either completely—or at least partially—toothless. It affects an estimated 158 million people worldwide. As we all can suspect, losing one’s teeth can be very problematic. Teeth serve many basic yet important functions such as chewing food, maintaining speech, & supporting your facial structure. Teeth also allow humans to break their food down in a manner that is more digestible through a process known as mastication. As a result, malnutrition is a very possible side effect, which may additionally have a domino effect. Weight loss, constipation, & arthritis have been known to occur as well. In the most extreme cases of edentulism, the condition has even been connected to more serious & sometimes life-threatening diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, heart problems, & even cancer.
4: TMJ Conditions
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ, describes a condition in which three important parts of the mouth experience pain: the muscles that move the jaw, the muscles of mastication, & the temporomandibular joints (which connect the mandible to the skull). If left untreated, TMJ conditions can become chronic & quite painful. Symptoms of TMJ include dizziness, loss of hearing, headaches, pain or pressure behind the eyes, pain in the jaws & teeth, & headaches (including migraines & myofascial pain). The jaw muscles may also become stiff, making it difficult to eat or speak. It’s estimated that up to 30% of the adult population is affected by TMJ in some form or another.
3: Tooth Decay
Tooth decay goes by many names, but cavities & dental caries are the most common. Regardless of how they’re classified, tooth decay can have a harmful effect on humans. While they usually cause symptoms such as pain & difficulty chewing, they can also lead to many of the ailments we’ve already discussed such as abscesses, periodontal diseases, & edentulism. More than 2 billion people worldwide are affected by tooth decay is some form, though it is far more common in developing countries where they often lack proper resources to treat the problem.
Broadly speaking, tooth decay describes any activity that involves the breakdown of teeth due to the spread of bacteria. It can be brought on by a number of factors such as poor hygiene & poverty as well as other medical conditions such as diabetes mellitus and Sjogren’s syndrome. Although diabetes is the result of high blood pressure & Sjogren’s is the result of increased white blood cells, both conditions lead to a decrease in the mouth’s saliva production. This is dangerous due to the fact that saliva works to reduce the amount of acidic activity within the mouth. Thus, a decrease in saliva production leads to bacteria buildup & an increase in the likelihood of developing tooth decay.
While bacteria & dietary sugars are also common culprits, they alone are usually not enough to cause it. Exposure to an acidic environment is what significantly increases the likelihood of someone experiencing tooth decay. Symptoms may initially be difficult to spot. But the effects become more obvious as the teeth decay more & more. The affected teeth will change colors—usually yellow or brown—and will also be sensitive to the touch. Pain & tenderness are quite common too. If not treated, the tooth could crumble & the bacteria may spread to the surrounding tissue. This has the potential to lead to blood clots in the brain or Ludwig’s angina which, as we’ve already mentioned, is a very life-threatening ailment.
2: Burning Mouth Syndrome
Known as BMS, Burning Mouth Syndrome describes a condition where there is a burning or tingling sensation within the mouth without an apparent cause. While medical experts are not exactly sure what causes it, they’ve floated several different theories around.
The first is that it’s related to menopause, as many of those suffering from BMS are postmenopausal women. Others believe it may be the result of an autoimmune disease. But there are still no statistical correlations to back either claim.
Additionally, some hypothesize that BMS is the result of a psychiatric condition, as there exists a connection between BMS, and depression & anxiety.
1: Oral Cancer
Oral cancer describes any cancerous tissue within the mouth. The vast majority of oral cancer cases are classified as squamous cell sarcomas: a type of cancer that originates in the mouth tissue but can spread to the digestive tracts & lungs. In 2013, over 130,000 people died from oral cancer in the United States alone.
Most cases of oral cancer are the result of human behavior, such as tobacco use, poor dental hygiene, malnutrition, & poorly-fitted dentures. The most common symptoms include small, pale-colored ulcers as well as lumps on the mouth, tongue, inside the mouth, or behind the teeth. While these ulcers are usually painless at first, they often become more & more painful as the cancer progresses. One afflicted with oral cancer will also have trouble swallowing & moving their tongue. They’ll also develop painful mouth sores & a sensation known as paraesthesia: a tickling or tingling feeling inside the mouth or face.
Oral cancer is, in fact, the most common type of cancer in India, with about 130,000 people being diagnosed each & every year. It’s prevalence stems from the high rates of tobacco use, including snuff, quid, gutka, & misir. There also exists common practices such as chewing on the leaves of paan, betel, & areca, all of which are known to cause oral cancer.