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Warning! Fatal toothache!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Chronic Pain
Hello everyone,
First of all I have to keep this very short because I am not feeling very well at all right now. This is to anyone who has started having problems with their teeth after their back problems started up.
Almost immediately after I had my first two surgery's my teeth started to become a problem. I've had a lot of loss in enamel on my teeth and because of the pain I keep my teeth clamped together like a vice at all times, 24/7. I have broken a lot of me teeth because of this and have had tons of dental work done in the past 5 years. It never seems to end.
Currently I have another broken tooth that also has a cavity. On Christmas Eve I bit down on a piece of food and it put pressure on that tooth. I immedialtely has severe pain and as the night went on the left side of my face began to swell a little. By the next day though it had gotten so big that my lower lip was swollen and my jaw and cheek were huge. The next morning, that day after Christmas, I woke early only to discover that the swelling was evn worse and had moved into my neck, really huge. Plus it was red and had red streaks all over the place. I has promised my mother and my husband that I would seek out medical attention and my husband went to work that morning.
The next thing I know is my husband was back home and he told me that he was taking me to the ER immediately. Some of his cowrokers had told him that this was very dangerous. He was scared to death! When they saw me they took me in immediately.
To get to the point, while I was seeing the doctor he told me "This is very serious, at any moment this could get to your (my) heart and you will be dead within hours". Wow, what a wakeup call! I was also told that it could have gotten to my brain. They gave me a shot of a very strong antibiotic and took tons of blood to see if it was in there. It was! They told me to come back in the morning, no matter what! And they also told me that if anything changes, gets worse, to come back immediately.
The funny thing is that I was already taking antibiotics for two weeks so I could see the dentist and have it worked on, yet this happened anyway. Simply amazing. So if there is anyone else that is having dental problems, don't delay getting to your dentist and please watch out for any swelling. If it happens, get to a doctor fast! I know other people who have had dental problems after their back was injured so I know that I'm not the only one.
I just used up another one of my 9 lives like a cat, and I hope that no one else has to go through this. But if you do, please don't wait like I did. I should have gone to the ER on Christmas or even the dentist sooner. Take care of yourselves.
Happy New Year!


  • I have a broken tooth. Happened just the other day and hurts like the dickens. But with all of the doctor appointments I haven't had time to even give it the time and attention I know it needs. I'm also scared of the Dentist now because my neck is still sore from surgery. I guess I better put it higher on my priority list and get it taken care of. Thanks for sharing. Did they say it was any particular type of infection? So far I have no swelling which is good.
  • I had some dental work done about 2 months ago. I had a very large old filling that never give me one bit of trouble but my dentist told me under that filling it was decayed and should be giving me lots of pain. It makes me wonder if the med's I take masked it, the neurontin is a nerve pain med and a lot of teeth pain is nerve related. People should be heads up about this also.

  • About 3 months before surgery I got dental work done knowing that I had the spine surgery coming up. I had read how important it was to get all your dental work done before surgery.

    I had my surgery on 11/19 (L3-L4 fusion). Maybe about a week after surgery my teeth started that weird root canal feeling but I just brushed it off because I had just been to the dentist and the post-op surgery book said I might feel all kinds of different pains. But then one of my crowns came loose. So I go to the dentist. He does an x-ray and this small cavity I had before surgery is now much bigger. We were both shocked. He saw this months ago and said that it was no big deal, wait until after your surgery.

    I wonder if all the stress of the fusion healing just leaches your bones? So I'll probably start my antibiotics Monday or Tuesday after my dentist's office talks with my neuro's office.

    It never ends.

  • thanks for your post, glad your hubby took action to get help for you. #:S

    It is a good reminder to us all that our mouth will send anything into our blood system fast!..that is why nitro-glycerine pills for heart angina go under the tongue to dissolve. Even for a stroke, they recommend putting an aspirin in the mouth, to dissolve and go into the bloodstream fast.

    Feel better soon...having toofies that need work or are sick are no fun!!
  • hi there
    i have nice teeth but since i have been on oxycodone and i have been in constant pain.i have found that i have been grinding my teeth and i have damaged one of my front teeth.i have a chip in i t.i went to the dentist as soon as i noticed it..he said that he would grind it as flay as he could.and then said something that i did not like
    he said that you will have a slight chip in your tooth but because i am a man it dose not matter!!!
    i don't think so!! i have looked after my teeth all my life/just because i am male dose not mean that i should have grotty teeth !
    when i can afford it and when i am feeling better pain wise
    i will book to see a cosmetic dentist
    BUT i have noticed that poor health and drugs and lack of sleep has taken its toll on not just my teeth but my body in general
    has anyone else noticed that they have has this happen to them?
    happy new year to all
  • I'm really glad you're okay. And thanks for the warning. Straker, That Dentist is something else. I think a regular Dentist could put a cap on the front tooth. I know worry and stress can cause grinding. There are cheap trays you can get at the drugstore and most plans cover from the dentist a grinding tray. Happy New Year Topfuel and All. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks for the heads up and I hope you are feeling better soon. I went to get my teeth cleaned a couple of weeks after my fusion. I had the appt set about 6 months in advance and my whole family had to get theirs done too. I didn't even know this but you can't even have a cleaning for 6-8 weeks after a surgery due to the bacteria could cause and infection or something and get into your blood. I had to put my cleaning off and I was so mad because I wanted to get it done with. I too grind my teeth since I've been taking narc pain meds.
  • Ming,

    I think you can get your teeth cleaned as long as you are taking antibiotics for at least a week before the dental appointment.

  • So I should advise my dentist about my fusion when I make my appointment and see if I need to an antibiotic first. This tooth has got to go. No matter what. The percocet I take doesn't even take the pain away at all. So I believe the nerve pain statement. Thanks everybody. This has been a very informative post.
  • I called my Neuro's office and spoke with his assistant. She said that I needed to have my dentist call the Neuro's office, tell them the procedure that needed to be done and if I have any allergies then the Neuro's office would prescribe me what antibiotics I need to take.

    I mean either way, whether you leave the bad tooth in your mouth untreated or have the work done, either way you run the risk of the infection getting into your blood stream, wouldn't you?

    In my post op pack, it said that any cavities or cleaning work I have done for 1 year (I think), I have to take antibiotics a week before. But any invasive work like a root canal or implant I'd have to take an antibiotic the week before for up to 3 years.

  • I've got a big dental problem that needs attention myself and I've been worried about this very thing. On the right side, bottom, the molar in the way back (not the wisdom, but the one in front of where the wisdom used to be) began decaying 2 years ago, but by the time I finally got around to seeing the dentist to get my teeth taken care of (I actually had many cavities and had extensive work done on several teeth, including my front teeth. Yes, mine too seem to crumble since the back injury/pain meds, etc.). I should also note that I have a heart murmur so I already have to take antibiotics before and after any dental procedure as a precaution.

    Anyway, long story short, this back molar began breaking piece by piece (has now completely broken off at the gumline). The DDS said he couldn't remove it even back when he repaired the rest of my teeth because there wasn't enough for him to grab ahold of (it still had 2 'corners' then) and that I needed to see an oral surgeon. They made me an appt with said oral surgeon (the only one anywhere near me that takes Medicaid, my only insurance), and when the oral surgeon's office called to confirm my appt. I asked them about sedation because my DDS told me that he, himself, wouldn't have this tooth removed w/o it because it is in such bad shape and the root was completely joined all the way around the bone (picture it in one big loop rather than 2 points). I was informed that Medicaid doesn't pay for sedation, only lidocaine, and that I would have to pay over $300 for the sedation if I wanted it. I don't have that kind of money and as much as I've tried, have been unable to save it either (whenever I get money saved the car breaks down, one of the boys needs something important, the rent goes up, etc etc). Needless to say the tooth is still in my mouth...well, what's left of it anyway! It is now to the point that the gums are starting to grow over it because it's at the gumline and not one point is above that line. It is becoming more and more sore (the gums) to the point that I'm certain it's infected-which it always has been but it stopped hurting long ago unless I bite on something crunchy on that exact spot, which I just learned to chew on the other side...until I broke the top tooth on the other side in the back that now hurts too!

    So...I'm beginning to really worry about this infection situation and it getting into the bloodstream because of this tooth being like this for so long. I can only imagine how bad it will be if the gums do grow completely over it! I should have thought about the risk of fatality considering I have a medical background, but it never really occurred to me. I mean, I guess I "know" this, but didn't really think about it, or figured it must have to hurt a lot more (nerve pain wise I mean) for it to be true. BUT, what I'm thinking is that between the Lyrica (nerve pain med) and the morphine, percocet & ibuprofen that I take every day, probably the tooth would indeed hurt if I weren't taking all these meds, but that the meds are masking the pain.

    Another concern I have is that I'm having jaw pain on both sides that has developed recently...not necessarily a TMJ thing I don't think, but in the same place-and it's intermittent, and doesn't just happen when the jaw is moving. In fact it's "throbbing" slightly even now and my jaw is completely still.

    See, I've chalked it up to possibly Fibromyalgia, because TMJ pain is a sign/symptom of FM in some people and I've had other symptoms that I'm thinking may be FM (tho I haven't pushed the issue with the Dr's yet because I don't want to seem like a hypochondriac/cyberchondraic). But maybe the jaw pain is simply due to the infected teeth after all?

    This doesn't solve my problem tho-because I'm sure it would cost me more money now that I've put this off for literally years to get this infected ROOT (it can hardly be called a TOOTH anymore!) removed, and again, I just don't have that kind of money! I will have it tho in a couple of months if not sooner because since I've been unable to work, I let my ex claim our son on his taxes and he gives me half the money-so I can use the money for the extraction this year (last year I absolutely couldn't...I had serious debt that HAD to be paid if I wanted to keep my home-thank goodness I've paid off almost all of my debt and have mainly just monthly bills like rent/utilities, etc. left to pay-car insurance is the only other thing I had allocated this years refund for).

    Does anyone know if I could maybe buy myself some more time by taking an antibiotic? I can't believe it doesn't hurt more than it does...I mean there ARE days it's excruciatingly painful, but mostly it doesn't hurt at all-I've even "tested" it by eating ice cream on that side! But the antibiotics would probably be a good idea regardless, no? And how would I know if this "poison" of the infection was getting into my bloodstream? Any tell tale signs or anything? I just hate to bother my Dr any more than I already do, ya know? But at the same time, I'm curious...well OK, WORRIED, now that this infected root could be a ticking time bomb or something!

    Again, thanks for bringing this topic up! It's extremely important for ALL chronic pain people-even those that still have good teeth! I always thought the constant steroid injections coupled with the pain meds and my addiction to Mt. Dew were the culprits for my sudden rapid tooth decay, but maybe there's more to it than I thought? And yes, I admit, I've avoided the DDS since it completely broke off because one surefire way to MAKE it hurt is by touching it, and you KNOW how DDS's LOVE to poke at it and say "does this hurt?"...Umm...DUH!!! :S

    I apologize for writing a book...but now I'm stressin over this! :SS Thanks for any input anyone can give me on this!
  • I had that same tooth removed after a failed crown and also having my gums cut back so that enough tooth would be exposed so the crown would grasp it. I should've gotten a second opinion! I ended up getting it removed with only lidocaine and I took a sedative before the procedure. I guess it was easier since I had my gums cut so it was easier to get at it. It's best to get it done and overwith so you can get a bridge or denture made or implant. I was saving fo an implant until I got sick and been off because of my back and I'm broke now. It hurts because the root is exposed. It has to come out or you could get an infection. I wish you all the best. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • lol

    at leasst i am so happy to find this site

    i do not feel so alone

    i am a widow so you people wherever you are answer so many questions for me

    thank all of you and hope your all better in the new year

    from a canadian that wishes she could dance again...i never could sing

  • Tanya,

    I had the same tooth, opposite side of my mouth extracted in July before my back surgery. It was a root canal with a crown that when down hill fast after being on all kinds of pain meds. Maybe because I was on the pain meds I just never knew there was a problem? At any rate. Same deal as you, I just had the dentist give me a really big shot in my jaw. He waited about 20 minutes until it was really numb. He slit my gum and took it out. It wasn't too bad. Needles in my back were MUCH WORSE! When you've been tortured with back needles, getting a tooth extracted is NOTHING!

    You really need to get it done otherwise you could be dealing with much worse health consequences.

    Take care,
  • First of topfuelfan i am so glad hubby was on the ball there and all is on the mend for you, very scary there. I think it was Virg in the old site that brought up the topic of taking care of teeth and the importance for those that take meds.
    Personally i too have just gone through a visit that turned into the visit of shcck and surprise. I was told I had 4 cavities. I have not had a cavities since my youth. I take great care of teeth but i think since being on meds, that they really do cause problems with the teeth. Also they dry your mouth out which then causes many problems as well.
    I recently had major brain surgery to clip and aneurysm and wile being incubated the pushed a cap down, so i now have to have that cap replaced. My bottom tooth (molar) had two cavities and was full of decay. I was so worried that i would lose. that tooth. For that tooth alone i had 2 scripts for antibiotics and 5 for pain meds. My face was also very swollen.I am just so happy that I did not lose tooth, and have to have a implant put in. I had a implant before for back molar and that implant needed a sinus lift as well and cost us $8000.00. I told doctor i needed a boob lift not a sinus lift, but that is just the way it goes and my luck. Plus I could get a boob lift a hell of a lot cheaper as well. LOL. You cannot even see that sucker to show it off to that world.
    Well I have spent the last month visiting the dentist every Thursday. All is taken care of now. My plan as a patient that takes meds is to go back to cleaning 3 times a year, and continue to floss and use sonic tooth brush. All things I already do, but really not get in this situation. Teeth are so very expensive as well.
    EMT just a thought and I have done it with a back molar. I had them use gas. I was so nerovous, but agter having the gas, I did not care what he did. I had a great time and he could have taken them all out and it sure is a hell of a lot cheaper then sedation. I think i paid like $50.00 which insurance does not pay, but I would not have done withour. So juust thought I would mention to ya.
    Great topic.
    Well back to today's issues
  • j

    Great idea! Cheaper than sedation by far and it'll make you less aware of the pressure and possible crunching that you would experience with just the novacaine.

    EMT, I'm pretty sure the dentist would still give you long acting novacaine. I'd certainly request that you get it because it'll give your body extra hours to adjust to the extraction before your nerves feel it.

    Problem solved! Let us know when you're scheduled and what happens.

    Best wishes,
  • Dear Tonya,
    Sorry it took so long to reply, I've been very sick because of this and have been in bed resting. It was just a plain old bacterial infection. Nothing special, amazing isn't it? I hope that you can get to the dentist soon, I know exactly what you mean about it being hard to fit it in with so much else going on. Maybe if you could just see the dentist and get some antibiotics for the infection (if you have any) you will be OK until your neck feels better. Just don't allow it to go on for too long. I wish you the best and good luck!
  • Hi Straker!
    I have noticed that my health has gotten pretty bad since my pain began. I know a lot of it has to do with a poor diet, I never feel like eating, the stress, and the lack of sleep. I know what you're talking about 100%.
    I also agree with you about the comment on your teeth. Just because you are a man that doesn't mean that you shouldn't want pretty teeth. A scar on a man's face makes him look rugged but a chipped tooth makes him look like he doesn't care. I hope that you can get that taken care of soon, I know how costly it is to have dental and cosmetic work done on the teeth. Talk about draining the wallet!
    Happy New Year to you also!
  • Dear Tanya,
    You should at least get on some antibiotics to help get rid of the infection in the meantime. I know how it is having to go to the Oral Surgoen and having sedation. I had to have a tooth pulled about 5 years ago by the oral surgeon and of course I was sedated and it cost me an astounding $2,000.00 out of my pocket. I had already used up all of my dental insurance from a root canal done earlier in the year. What a shock that was!
    The signs to look for? Well, with me it was swelling around the area where the bad tooth was. It happened so fast my family and I could actually watch it growing. It started out with small swelling and then in less than 24 hours the swelling had spread all along the side of my face and half of my bottom lip. By the next morning my entire bottom lip was huge and the swelling had moved into my neck. Almost all of the way down my neck! It also felt warm and my neck (where it was swollen) was really, really red.
    They will be able to get that tooth out but the dentist will have to cut into your gums to get it, ouch! I hate this, I have a serious fear of dentist's in the first place but it seems I am always going to one for something.
    I hope you get this taken care of soon and that you also feel better soon. I'm on Oxy but even that doesn't dull the tooth pain when it decides to hit.
    Good luck and Happy New Year!
  • Dear Nancy,
    I love to dance also and sure miss the days when I could. I'm glad that you found this forum and get the answers that you need.
    Wishing you a Happy New Year!
  • I had laughing gas before and I got the giggles so bad that the dentist and his assistant got them too. It was so funny! Yes, it's a much cheaper way to go. It just doesn't work on me anymore for some odd reason. As to the boob job, I agree with you. What a waste of money huh? Just kidding. Beautiful teeth are so much more important and always remember this, no matter what bust size a woman may be she is beautiful. That's also what makes us so very interesting, a man never knows what he's going to get, it's like a prize that he has to win. We are all beautiful in our own individual way!
  • Hello Everyone!
    There are so many messages here that I am unable to answer them all. First I want to thank everyone for their good wishes. I still have some swelling and I'm still not feeling all that well yet but I am getting better. Yes, thank God my husband came home and whisked me off to the hospital. I have to say that was very, very scary.
    I want to share what to look for if you have a problem tooth. It happened so fast with me I couldn't believe it, but even if it's a slow build up please seek help. I had swelling around the area where the bad tooth is first then it spread to the rest of my cheek and then to my lower lip, just half way. That was all in under 24 hours. The next morning it had spread to my entire lower lip and then also down my neck, quite visibly down my neck. It was also very red on my neck. The area that was swollen was also warm to the touch and extremely sore and painful, (even or especially my neck).
    I also felt bad, which makes sense because the bacteria had spread through my blood. It also hurt every time I had to bend over, actually it still does. It still hurts pretty badly also but it is getting better. I won't feel calm about this until it's all gone and this tooth is taken care of.
    My husband has calcium on a hert valve and his cardiologist had told him years ago that if he ever has any invasive dental work done, or anything else invasive for that matter but especially his teeth, that he needs to go on antibiotics for at least a week prior to having the work done. He could easily get the same thing that I almost did. It never dawned on me that I was in the same boat with this swelling. Well, I had better go as it's starting to hurt pretty badly right now. Good luck to all of you and if you have any questions please feel free to pm me. Now that I'm starting to get up and around I'll be able to check back more often.
    Happy New Years to everyone!
  • I want to thank everyone for the tips, and the concern! I will get this thing taken care of even if I have to wait for tax refund money because I'm very frightened now after reading the experiences shared here!

    Top-I'm so glad to read that you're doing better now after your ordeal...that's so scary and hard to even comprehend!! I hope the rest of the recovery goes fast for ya :o)

    BTW, the gas doesn't work for me (I have a high tolerance to everything) otherwise I'd have tried that already, but someone did PM me and recommend a dental school, =D> which I hadn't thought of! Ferris State University is here in town so I'm going to call today and see if they have a dental school and if so, if they can do the extraction-would save a ton of money if they can do it! I do know they have an ophthalmology school because that's where my oldest son and I got our eye exam/glasses :B from at a fraction of the cost of a "regular" eye doctor. Would be great if they can do the same thing with dentistry!!! Keep your fingers crossed please.

    I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Years Eve and may your New Year be filled with blessings from the good Lord-each and every one of us deserves that! :)
  • geez...I even get it from my dentist when I'm just having a cavity filled. I think I'd rather have an epidural than even a cavity filled
  • I'd like to know how they get that gas mask over all of that fur? And also, because of the fur how do they find where to put the epidural?
  • I was lucky. I had my sister in law in this weekend and while she was here I had her look at it. She's a dental aIssistant. She did however say, "That has to come out soon." but she didn't see any signs of infection which really shocked her and when I told her it only hurts occasionally she reminded me that I'm on Percocet and Valium so duh! Actually she said there was enough of it left for a crown. I told her it's my back tooth and I'm getting older and I am already spending hundreds of dollars a month of Dr.'s and meds that I just didn't see being able to afford a root canal even with insurance. It's still $600 with insurance. She told me to fly down to Florida and she will have her doc take care of it. What an offer! A trip to sunny Florida! Too bad I'll spend a week there in pain. :( But we really all should be more cautious of how our meds and pain effect the other parts of our bodies. Bad teeth can cause heart problems too and cause infection elsewhere in the body. I just never gave it that much thought. I actually told her that I'd probably have that whole side pulled and she could just make me a partial. I'm 43 husband and boyfriendless so who do I have to impress. They make pretty realistic looking partials.
    EMT, I hope you get relief SOON! I hope you don't have to put it off until tax season. I mean I realize it isn't that far off but Darn! Teeth hurt!
  • It's really important to take care of an infection in your mouth. If the infection gets really bad and gets in your bloodstreem, it's a very short ride to the brain. That's why when you get an abscessed tooth, they put you on antibiotics before they will pull the tooth or do a root canal. At least that's what I've been told.

    I have had so many root canals I can't remember how many. Also had umpteen teeth pulled. Definitely the way to go is to have an oral surgeon pull them. They have a way of putting the novacain in places that a regular dentist doesn't do. The last tooth I had pulled, my regular dentist did it and gave me that gas. I will never do that again. I really had a bad reaction to it...thought I was going to die!! I've also got a partial plate and many, many crowns and caps. When molars break off at the gum line, a crown or cap isn't really a good option. Just have the thing pulled and get a partial!

    My mouth has a lot more money in it than my bank account does!!!
  • "My mouth has a lot more money than my bank account does!" I can relate to that! What a shame it is that dental work has to cost so much. My health insurance only covers $1,000. and that is a huge joke. What will it take care of? A cleaning? One injection of Novacaine? An X-Ray of one tooth? I've had to put so much cash out because my insurance gets used up on the first tooth, it doesn't even cover all of the work on one tooth.
    You mentioned how the infection can get into the blood stream? Yes it can very easily as I found out the hard way. It can then make it to the brain or the heart quite fast, you can die within 24 hours. Pretty scary thought!
    I had always noticed that my teeth went bad after my back was injured but I've never been able to figure out why. Now that I've seen how many others have had the same problem I know for a fact that it has something to do with it. We are all on different med's so it doesn't sound like that would be the problem. It's just weird and another problem that I could have done without.
  • Dear Tonya,
    First of all at 43 you still happen to be young and vital. You're in your prime. But impressing a man is not something that I would bother to worry about. Do what is best for you. I have a gap between my two front teeth and had always planned on getting braces. Now I'll probably just have them capped and the dentist will make them much closer together. But with dentures you could also get a perfect nice white set of teeth and truly, who would ever know?
    How lucky for you to have a dental assistant in the family! I'm thinking of having an affair with a dentist to get the work done for free. OK, just kidding! My husband would probably notice.
    Have fun on your trip to Florida, you won't be in pain everyday.
  • I REALLY needed to smile this morning.
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