When is a toothache something to be concerned about?

A toothache is a major pain. In fact, it’s one of the most painful things a person can experience. But when is a toothache something to be concerned about?

I’ve been nursing my own toothache for a while now. I know I should have gone to the dentist months ago but, being out of work with no insurance, it’s next to impossible to find a clinic in my area that will help.

I’ve been carrying bottles of pain relievers around in my purse, making sure to never run out. Every four hours or so, I’d take a couple tablets and I’d be fine. If I somehow forgot, I paid the price so I was pretty good about staying on track.

It’s sad to say that I’d gotten pretty comfortable with this routine.

Something Changed

I knew something had changed when the pain relievers stopped working and it was no longer easy to pinpoint where the pain was coming from.

The left side of my face became painful to even the slightest touch. The sharp, throbbing pain shot through my cheek to my ear and temple. If I applied any kind of pressure, it sent excruciating pulses to other areas of my face. I was unable to eat, talk or even breathe with my mouth open without pain.

I also started getting nauseous and incredibly drowsy. My son missed two days of school because I couldn’t stay awake long enough to drive him and the bus doesn’t run this far out.

I spent three days laid out on the couch. Waking in sudden pain and dosing off and on all day and night. The household came to a complete stop and my poor boyfriend was close to tears from feeling so helpless. So, I finally decided to go the ER.

At The Hospital

I had my doubts that they would be able to do anything for me. Hospitals don’t usually have a dentist on call. But I couldn’t deal with the pain anymore and my family needed me to be well asap!

The doctor who was taking care of me ordered blood work and a CAT scan. After three hours in the cold room they put me in, I was diagnosed with an infection in my tooth and something called Facial Cellulitis. I was given a shot of “Ibuprofen on steroids”, a script for some strong antibiotics and was advised to see a dentist before being sent on my way.

No one explained what facial cellulitis was so, after we spent way too much to fill my antibiotics Rx, we finally got home and I looked it up.

Apparently the infection in my tooth had spread to the tissues in my face. This explained the sensitivity. And my extreme drowsiness was the result of my body exhausting itself trying to fight it off.

It Could Have Been Worse

Had I not gone in to be seen, not only would the pain have continued to get worse, it could have traveled to my bones, my brain or even my heart. All of which could have led to much more serious issues, including death.

So, when is a toothache something to be concerned about? Unfortunately, I don’t have an exact answer for you. All I have to offer is my personal experience and the same advice you’ve probably already heard.

That being said, one of the most common signs of any infection is a fever. However, as someone who never displays this particular symptom, don’t wait for a fever to get checked out. Get to a dentist as soon as you can. Or at the very least, go to the ER. Get some antibiotics in your system and, if your financial situation is keeping you from seeking help, start looking for a sliding scale dental clinic in your area.

Had I tried to push through this, it could have meant my life. Infections are serious and, left untreated, can be very dangerous. So don’t put it off- get it taken care of. Nothing is worth putting your life in danger.