Man Dies From "Killer" Toothache

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Kyle Willis, 24, of Cincinnati, went to the emergency room two weeks ago complaining of painful swelling in his head and face. This swelling was caused by a wisdom tooth that dentists told the man needed to be extracted. Because of his lack of health insurance and a job, he ignored the dentist's recommendation. When he checked himself into the E.R., Kyle was prescribed an antibiotic and pain killer. Willis couldn't afford both medications, so he opted for the pain killer only.

Left untreated, the infection that started in his wisdom tooth spread to his brain, leading to his death Tuesday.

While a toothache is a pretty strange thing to die from, it isn't unheard of. ABC News says:

"In 2007, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver also died when a tooth infection spread to his brain. The Maryland   boy underwent two operations and six weeks of hospital care, totaling $250,000. Doctors said a routine $80 tooth extraction could have saved his life. His family was uninsured and had recently lost its Medicaid benefits, keeping Deamonte from having dental surgery."

As someone who also doesn't have medical insurance, this is a pretty scary story. Luckily my hospital just changed its accepted methods of payment to "Cash, credit, or first born child", so I think I'm in the clear.

Story and video via ABC News

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