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What happens when you have a heart murmur and ignore a bad tooth filling?

Posted Nov 13 2009 10:00pm

heart murmur/bad filling This is a true story told to me by the wife of a dental patient with a heart murmur (mostly in her words).

Three months ago my husband lost part of a filling and used a temporary fix he bought at a Drug Store. What he didn’t realize was the need to have this looked at by a dental professional. He assumed no pain, so why rush to the dentist? Especially when he feared the dentist!

1. At 40-years old,  no medical or dental professional had ever told him he would more susceptible to blood infections because he was born with a heart murmur.

2. He started sleeping a lot more, not wanting to do too much. He just assumed he stayed up too late.

3. Then he started getting low grade fevers that would only go away with aspirin.

4. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with the Swine flu. He was told to rest and that the virus seemed to be near its end.

5. Another week went by and the doctor told him to go to the hospital to get a blood culture. That’s what they do when they can’t figure out what is causing a fever.

6. Yet another week went by and the blood culture results confirmed that he had a strep (streptococcus) infection of the blood that may have infected his heart valves. He was admitted to the hospital on a Friday where IV antibiotics were administered immediately.

7. An infectious disease doctor and a cardiologist got involved and administered several tests.

At the time, we had no clue as to what caused the infection until the infectious disease doctor asked, “Did you have any tooth problems?”  We actually told him no at first because it was minor. The doctor said this infection had been building for some time to reach this level and we had to think back to what  it could have been.

And then the “ah hah” moment happened. It was the filling!My husband spent the next five days in the hospital. After being released from the hospital, he spent the next four weeks on an antibiotic IV drip machine every four hours.

The moral of this story is to take care of your teeth.

1. Don’t use a temporary filling for a permanent filling.
2. Never be your own dentist.
3. If you have a heart murmur, you should be on antibiotics for one week before and after any dental procedure – even for a regular teeth cleaning procedure.
I was born with a congenital heart murmur and no medical or dental professional has ever told me that I would be susceptible to blood infections. My thanks go out to these courageous people for sharing their story. I sincerely hope it encourages my readers to take responsibility for their oral health care.

Imagine the fear, worry, time, and money that could have been avoided if this man had sought professional dental care immediately.

What I know for sure is that it’s all connected.

Saundra Goodman
Got Teeth? A Survivor’s Guide
How to keep your teeth or live without them.

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