An unemployed Ohio man who had no health insurance died this week after a routine tooth infection went untreated spread to brain where it swelled lethally.
Kyle Willis, 24, developed the toothache two weeks ago, but he couldn’t afford the procedure to have his wisdom teeth extracted, according to reports.
Thereafter, he developed headaches and his face became swollen, forcing him to go to the emergency room.
The [doctors] gave him antibiotic and pain medication, but he couldn't afford to pay for the antibiotic, so he chose the pain meds, which was not what he needed, Willis' aunt Patti Collins told WLWT-TV of Cincinnati.
She said her nephew died Wednesday. He leaves behind a young daughter.
He should have gone to the dentist to take care of the toothache, and it wouldn't have escalated to all of this, she said.
Dr. Irvin Silverstein of the University of California at San Diego told ABC: People don't realize that dental disease can cause serious illness. People end up dying, and these are the most treatable, preventable diseases in the world. The problems are not just cosmetic. Many people die from dental disease.
Silverstein added: When people are unemployed or don't have insurance, where do they go? What do they do? People end up dying, and these are the most treatable, preventable diseases in the world.
However, dental care is often beyond the reach of low-income or jobless Americans.
Silverstein operates three free clinics in the San Diego area.
We're overwhelmed right now, he said. We can't take any new patients.
A report by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2003 revealed that 108 million Americans had no dental insurance, almost two-and-a-half times the number without health insurance.