Feb 25, 2007 12 year old Deamonte Driver from Maryland died from a tooth abscess. The infection from the offending tooth had spread to his brain. The child had never had routine dental care, which would probably have prevented his death.
Deamonte never really had much pain with his teeth. At least his mother said he never really complained, though she knew he needed some dental care. He had a checkup in Oct. of 2006 and was referred to an oral surgeon to extract six teeth. The mother cancelled due to the loss of his medical card.
Jan 11 Deamonte complained of a headache and was taken to the emergency room. He underwent emergency brain surgery and started having seizures. He then had a second operation, and the problem tooth was extracted. He stayed two weeks at Children’s Hospital in Maryland and was moved to another hospital to undergo 6 weeks of physical and occupational therapy. He seemed to be mending, and suddenly took a turn for the worse and died Feb 25.
Even though most areas of the country are fluoridated (though several areas in this county are not) tooth decay is the single most common childhood disease nationwide, five times more common than asthma. Emergency treatment can be costly: Deamonte’s bill for the two weeks at Children’s alone was between 200,000 and 250,000.
This story reminds us how important it is to get routine dental care. It is especially important to listen to the signals our bodies give us to let us know there is a problem, like tooth sensitivity, pain, a foul taste in the mouth, bad breath, and swelling. Remember, baby teeth can abscess too! It’s especially important to address issues in baby teeth in a timely manner, as abscess usually happens very quickly in primary teeth. If you have any concerns about whether there is infection present in your mouth, have your dentist examine your teeth. Infection can easily be detected with an exam and x-rays. And remember, don’t ignore that nagging feeling that something is wrong with your teeth!
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