What Is That Terrible Odor?
By Dr. Declan Devereux
These were the words spoken by a patient of ours last week as we started to treat a tooth that had a root canal many years ago and was the source of a deep anaerobic bone infection. Based upon our article in the last issue of HWD we have seen that the topic of anaerobic infections and their systemic affects is of great interest to the readers of this magazine.
This goes to show the high level of awareness in the readers of HWD since much of the general population have not heard of the affects of the "rotten egg" bacteria. Areas with poor circulation favor the growth of anaerobic bacteria. For instance have you ever wondered why someone with gangrene (often caused by frostbite) has to have a toe cut off? This is because areas that become infected with anaerobic bacteria loose circulation, which interferes with the bodies' ability to heal itself. The oral equivalent of a toe with gangrene is a tooth with a dead nerve or a failing root canal. These anaerobically infected areas often form abscesses, which are the bodies way of trying to seal off the infection. The areas of "dead bone" next to these teeth are often tender when pressure is applied over the skin next to the infected tooth. Many patients are unaware that they have these infections although their affects on the body are widespread. If an anaerobic infection is present it places a constant strain on the immune system to keep the infection in check.
This is why these frequently undetected infections often "flare up" when the patient is worn down from some other stress (i.e., lack of sleep, a cold, etc.). It just makes common sense that the heavy burden these infections place on the immune system will eventually lead to breakdown in other areas of the body. Think of the last time you had a cold. Were you full of energy? You were probably fatigued due to the heavy demand being placed on your immune system. Also when are you most likely to catch a cold? When you are already run down from something else. So if you are walking around with a dental infection you would be foolish to believe that this is having no affect on your well being. You are most probably fatigued, susceptible to disease, and just plain not functioning at your best. It is absolutely mind boggling to me the changes that occur in our patients once they get their mouths healthy.
If you are concerned that you may have an anaerobic infection or would like to discuss any other dental concerns, please call us at 941-5555.
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