With the new year nearly here, many people are starting to think about their new year's resolutions. If you are like most Americans, you'll choose a goal like losing weight, quitting smoking or getting organized. Do these sound too boring and cliche to you? If so, why not take on the resolution of getting yourself sick, simply by neglecting your teeth? This is surprisingly easy to do, particularly if you have the good luck to experience a small dental problem that you can allow to spiral into catastrophe.
Stop Flossing Your Teeth
If you stopped brushing, your teeth would feel like they were wearing sweaters, and that's no fun at all. Neglecting to floss, however, is something that's easy for most to accomplish, because on a day-to-day basis, it does not annoy you. What it does do, however, is allow bacteria to build up between your teeth and under your gum line. Your breath might get a little ripe, but that's par for the course.
After a few weeks or months, you should have sufficient inflammation to make your gums tender; this is a sign that you have some bacterial growth occurring. If you have heart problems or a condition like diabetes, this step alone might be enough to get you sick: Left unchecked, gingivitis can cause problems with your blood sugar levels, and that might even land you in the hospital!
Ignore Small Dental Problems
Once your gums are inflamed, plaque, a sticky substance that bacteria love to feed on, will begin collecting between your teeth. After some time, you'll likely start to feel some sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. This is a sign that you're starting to develop dental caries, or a cavity. Don't stop your commitment to not flossing at this point, as it means you're on the right track toward illness!
While a cavity might cause headaches and discomfort, you're probably not quite uncomfortable enough to really call yourself sick just yet. If you were to see a dentist once your hypersensitivity started, he or she would fill the cavity, lecture you a bit on your decision not to floss, and you'd be back to normal. Remember, though, your goal is to be the opposite of healthy, so you need to stick things out a bit longer.
Ride Out the Pain and Swelling
If you let that cavity grow, fueled by a diet high in sugar, eventually it will reach the nerve space of the tooth. This is the point that a reasonably prudent person would visit their dentist and might find that they need root canal therapy to save the tooth and relieve the pain. If you were to do that, your tooth would feel better quickly and you'd be one of the many Americans who abandon their new year's resolutions.
Instead, allow the tooth to fester for a while. Loading up on over-the-counter medications could make it more bearable. Once the nerve in your tooth dies, the pain might go away for a while. Don't worry, though: Things are still brewing! The pain only goes away because the nerve is dead; it will take a little while for anything more exciting to happen.
One day, your wait will be over, and with any luck, you'll wake up with a swollen jaw. You may also have a fever and general malaise. This indicates that the infection in your tooth has spread into your jawbone. If it's an upper tooth, it might have gone into your sinus. If you do not seek medical help right now, it could go into your bloodstream and affect your heart. In some cases, sepsis could occur; this is a life-threatening condition that is treated with intravenous antibiotics (and possibly emergency surgery) in the hospital.
There you have it! Neglecting your dental hygiene is a great way to get yourself sick in 2015. Obviously, this is not a surefire method; some people will be able to neglect their teeth for years without getting themselves really ill. If you manage to get an aggressive case of dental decay, however, this scenario could play out for you.
If getting sick in 2015 is not on your bucket list, it might be a good idea to do the opposite of what has been suggested, starting with flossing each day, getting small problems taken care of, and seeing your dentist immediately if you have any pain and swelling in your mouth. If you are looking for a dentist in Greenville, North Carolina, try checking out Michels & Gauquie DDS.