Youth develops life-threatening condition after delaying treatment for tooth infection


Dubai: Nasir Irfan Muhammad, a 27-year-old Pakistani expat in Dubai, never thought a minor toothache would put him under the knife or develop into a life-threatening condition. He narrowly escaped death by undergoing emergency surgery at a private hospital in Dubai after his toothache developed into a rare condition called Ludwig Angina.

A rare bacterial infection, Ludwig Angina spreads rapidly from an abscessed tooth causing abnormal neck swelling and breathlessness. 

Youth develops life-threatening condition after delaying treatment for tooth infection

Toothache for two weeks

Nasir started experiencing a minor toothache in the first week of February. He ignored it and tried home remedies to fight the pain. A few days later, the toothache worsened, and he noticed swelling in his neck. 

The next day, Nasir went to a nearby clinic in Qusais, where he lives, and consulted a dentist. The doctor at the clinic diagnosed him with a severe tooth infection and gave him medicines. 

Though he started taking medicines, there was no respite from pain. Rather his difficulties aggravated. Later, he started experiencing breathing difficulty and was rushed to Aster Hospital, Mankhool, by his friends.

“I was totally scared. I have never seen or heard of a toothache getting so worse. There was swelling in my neck, and I could not open my mouth or feed anything. Swallowing food was also difficult. When I started experiencing breathing difficulty, I realized that this is something very serious. I was gasping for breath. That’s when I told my friends, and they took me to the hospital,” said Nasir.

At the hospital, he was attended to by Dr Renju Prem, specialist oral and maxillofacial surgery and Dr. M D Ashraf Reza, specialist ENT surgeon. They ordered for a CT scan which revealed a severe accumulation of pus in multiple compartments of the neck narrowing the airway. 

“In Nasir’s case, he came very late to the hospital. Nasir had been experiencing tooth pain for about two weeks when he reached the hospital. By this time, his tooth infection had aggravated to a massive extent affecting the entire floor of the mouth to the respiratory tract. There was a lot of pus that had accumulated in the airway causing him breathing difficulty. This led to inflammation in the neck. If delayed, it would have even taken a toll on his life. We had to drain the pus and treat the tooth infection to relieve his pain. So, we immediately shifted him for an emergency procedure and drained the pus. The procedure was successful, and his condition improved in a few days. Nasir could open his mouth, swallow food and fluids, by the time he left the hospitial. He was discharged fifth-day post-surgery,” said Dr Renju. 

Don’t take oral health lightly

Dr Renju warned that Nasir’s case should be a lesson and people should not neglect oral health. “When it comes to toothache and similar infections, patients are likely to delay consultation and try home remedies to reduce the pain. They seek medical care when the pain becomes unbearable for them. People must understand that a toothache or oral infection, if left untreated, could lead to serious complications, even life-threatening ones, in rare situations,” added the doctor.