Anyone who has experienced severe tooth pain knows how debilitating it can be. At first, you might just feel mild sensitivity to hot or cold foods, or soreness in your gum line. However, when it gets severe, eating, speaking, and sleeping can become difficult or even impossible. If you have an abscessed tooth, you may need a tooth extraction.

an abscessed tooth may require a tooth extraction

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity, or swelling of the gums, you may have an abscessed tooth. An abscessed tooth is an infection inside the tooth, or at the tip of the tooth inside the gum. If you think you might have one, it’s crucial you seek treatment right away.

An abscessed tooth begins with a hole in the enamel. The hole may be due to impact, decay, or chewing hard foods. Once the inner layers of the tooth are open, bacteria can infect the inside of the tooth, resulting in a puss-filled abscess. It is at this stage that the infection becomes very painful, and may be accompanied by swelling of the gums, face, or jaw. To treat the abscess, a dentist will cut or drill into the gum or tooth, drain the puss, and wash out the area with a saline solution. In some cases, an abscessed tooth may require a tooth extraction, although your dentist will avoid this if possible. It is also common to give sufferers of an abscessed tooth antibiotics to chase any remaining infection out of the body.

Last month, tragedy struck when Vadim Anatoliyevich, a long haul truck driver, husband, and father of 2 from Antelope, CA died after the infection in his abscessed tooth spread to his lungs. He had complained of a toothache two weeks prior to his death, before setting off on a drive to New York. In Oklahoma, he went to a dentist and had the abscess drained. He was also prescribed antibiotics to fight the infection. However, it had already begun to spread. He made it to New York, but on his way back across the country his condition began to deteriorate rapidly. Soon he was unable to drive, and his brother drove from California to pick him up. When Vadim rendezvoused with his brother he was experiencing severe swelling and was too weak to walk. His brother took him to a Utah hospital, where he died four days later.

Vadim’s family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his funeral costs and his two daughters. At the time of this article’s publishing, they had raised $282,000 with a goal of $250,000.