In the film “Castaway,” Tom Hanks' character, who is stranded on an island, performs a successful tooth extraction on himself using the blade of an ice skate. This eases his pain and keeps the infection from spreading.
While you probably shouldn’t opt for do-it-yourself dental care, you may not be getting regular check-ups and cleanings. A 2013 survey found that 23-43 percent of American adults don't make needed appointments with their dentist or dental hygienist.
We think that's probably an underestimate.
And that neglect can cause trouble — not just for gums and teeth.
An infected tooth can trigger chronic sinus problems, according to the American Association of Endodontists. Maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin happens when the root of a molar gets infected. Bacteria can spread into the sinus cavity and cause a chronic infection, triggering nasal stuffiness, pressure, and post-nasal drip.
Many doctors misdiagnose the condition. The real solution is a (painless these days) root canal.
In addition, chronic gum disease (periodontitis) is linked to Alzheimer's disease. A multinational study in the journal Science Advances looked at the brains of Alzheimer's patients and found that gum disease produces bacteria and toxins that migrate to the brain and are instrumental in creating amyloid tangles and tau proteins. Those conditions characterize Alzheimer's disease.
Gum disease is also associated with diabetes (it raises blood glucose levels), and poorly controlled diabetes makes gum disease worse.
Your best move is to brush and floss twice daily. See your dental hygienist twice a year for a cleaning and get a complete oral exam too.