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Diary of a Dental Disaster

4:30am Thursday 3rd Jan

Oh my, where did this pain come from? I've been shaken from my sleep by an incredible throbbing ache on the right side of my jaw. Wow! The pain is coming in waves and it's killing me!!!! Dentist doesn't open for another four and a half hours. *&@%! Okay, I see from their website that I should take an anti-inflammatory painkiller and an analgesic, I have no other medical problems, like asthma or allergies, so paracetamol and ibuprofen should do the trick.

6am Thursday 3rd Jan

Useless, the pain is a little easier. I can't get to sleep though, and the dentist still isn't open for another three hours. I'm going to message them on Facebook, hopefully they'll get the message, and I'll ring at 9am.

9am Thursday 3rd Jan

I've been on to Fiona at Expressions, but they can't see me until 10am. I can't even move without my mouth becoming incredibly painful. If I could I'd take it out myself...

10:30am Thursday 3rd Jan

Great news, It was that chipped tooth that broke 8 months ago when I was eating muesli. I know I should have done something about it, but it wasn't sore so I put it on the long finger. Anyway, the tooth is numb now, so it feels great. Dr. Rymer in the Clinic said that the nerve has some damage, due to a large cavity that had developed slowly over time, and that with the right treatment it is still salvageable. They have put a temporary filling in place and I've to come back in a fortnight for the tooth to be checked to see if it will take a permanent filing. Such a relief!

This was the hole in my tooth.

9am Friday 4th Jan

What a nights sleep. Such a relief. I must make sure to go for my regular check-up. I'm not going to let that happen again.

Sarah fixed my tooth temporarily, hopefully I can keep it.

2pm Thursday 17th Jan

I'm supposed to be going in to the dentist today for them to check my tooth, but it has been absolutely perfect since they put the temporary filling in, and they used a white filling so it looks great. I have to collect the kids from school at around the time of the appointment though, so I'm going to cancel it and I'll go again in a few days when I can organise the time.

10:12pm Saturday 20th July

So, we were out for a bit of food tonight in the Chinese, and I bit on something hard. My tooth is soooo painful. Its a sharp, shooting, stabbing pain. It's like there are bolts of lightning in my jaw. The tooth feels loose and every time I bite it hits into my tooth and it is so sore. The woman on the table next to us in the restaurant gave me a paracetamol, but it hasn't done anything! Its the same one I was supposed to get filled earlier in the year.

3am Sunday 21st July

Sleeping isn't an option. I am just pacing around the house. I've tried every old wives tale imaginable to get this toothache to go. It's killing me. I think my mouth even feels a little swollen and puffy.

6am Monday 22nd July

I am going to be standing outside the door of the dental clinic when they open this morning. Nothing helps this pain. It is excruciating. My face has swollen up like a balloon, and I've got a temperature. I feel sick.

10am Monday 22nd July

Bad news this time. Sarah in the dental clinic said that due to the severity of the infection I would probably need to get the tooth removed, or have root canal treatment. I didn't really know which to go for though, I'd hate to lose the tooth. In the end I had the tooth numbed and opened up and Sarah was able to drain a lot of the infection by making a tiny cut in the gum. I feel so much better. She did say how important it was to come back in in a couple of days, but I'm just so relieved and hopefully the swelling will go down in a couple of days.

8pm Tuesday 3rd Sept

Afraid of the thought of maybe having to have a tooth removed I've left it again. This time I'm driving in to Limerick to the A&E. I have such a large swelling on my jaw and my eye is beginning to close and is red and swollen. I feel sick and have the shivers like I'm coming down with the flu. I feel faint.

The big arrow points to the infection on the side of my jaw.

10pm Tuesday 3rd Sept

I have been admitted here to see the Oral and Maxillofacial surgery team. The nurse says my breathing is too fast and shallow and my heart is racing, they have advised me that I have a serious dental infection that has got into the spaces between the muscles in my face and my neck. They've done a scan to see the infection and I'm going to need an operation to remove the tooth and drain the infection.

11pm Tuesday 3rd September

The nurses here are great, they have me on very strong painkillers and I have IV antibiotics in a drip. I haven't slept properly in days. I have to go down to theater first thing in the morning.

Under a general anaesthetic, they drained pus from my neck.

7:30 am Wed 4th Sept

I'm just going down to the theater now, and the anaesthetist has said they may have some trouble putting me to sleep because of the amount of infection in the throat. Still a lot of pain in my jaw and my neck.

11am Wed 4th Sept

I am in recovery. The junior surgeon said they drained loads of infection from my neck, and there is a little tube under my chin to let anymore infection out, and they took out the tooth at the same time. I will be on strong painkillers and antibiotics for two weeks and I'll be in for a couple of days. They say that with the throat closing like it was I was lucky, and that I must ensure I see the dentist ASAP when I am discharged. I didn't realise a dental infection could get this bad.

10:45am 9th Sept

I've just come out from my appointment with Sarah back in Roscrea at Expressions. Sarah was so nice about it, she was very sympathetic with me about what happened and wasn't in anyway judgmental about me leaving the tooth, and the state I got myself into. She is going to fix up a couple of my other teeth for me before they get worse, and once the spot heals where I had my tooth out, she's got some great ideas for how I can fill the gap. On the way out I booked an appointment for my partner and the two kids as well. Not taking any chances.

This is a fictionalised diary of incidents that Dr. Sarah and Will Rymer have seen several times in their career. Dental infection is a serious problem, and can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Infection can travel to the eye, the neck, the chest cavity and even the brain if allowed to spread uncontrollably. This case details a condition called Ludwig's Angina which is a potentially life-threatening condition due to the swelling near the airway. This is a condition that Dr. Will Rymer was involved in treating twice when he was an Oral and Maxillofacial junior doctor in the UK, working in Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales.

Always attend for your 6 monthly check up, and when advised to undertake treatment please act promptly to avoid complications.

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