In an indirect way, yes a toothache can lead to death.

But it’s not the aching tooth itself, it’s the untreated infection.

How the Infection Starts

The biggest culprit, believe it or not, are pieces of food that get stuck between teeth and are never removed. Tiny fragments of meat, seed, or other hard-to-dissolve foods, get lodged between the teeth and work their way inside the gums. Brushing won’t remove these pieces. Flossing will remove most of these fragments, but some bits of food find their way into places where you don’t habitually floss. Bacteria grows from these food fragments and creates an inflammatory response. An abscess forms (a pocket of pus), and you have a toothache that radiates across your jaw.

Cracked teeth will develop an infection and abscess too. Many people don’t realize they have cracked teeth. The crack is so faint, yet it’s there. It often results in trying to chew unpopped popcorn, cracking open nuts, or using teeth to cut something open.

When Infection Leads to Sepsis

If you ignore an infection, and your body is having trouble fighting it, you may become septic. Normally when the body fights an infection, it releases chemicals to help it slow down the spread of infection. But if your immune system can’t overcome the infection, your body will become so toxic from these chemicals that it causes organ failure, and results in death.

The reason why so many people fail to take tooth infection seriously is because an infected tooth doesn’t immediately impact their ability to work. They still feel strong enough and alert enough to continue working, and therefore delay a visit to the dentist. Meanwhile, when people suffer from a lung infection or stomach infection they often call in sick and take better care of themselves.

Ignorance is the Real Cause of Death

If you were vomiting for two straight weeks, you would probably see a doctor right away. Yet, people will tolerate a toothache for months at a time before finally scheduling a dental visit. When you consider the mouth is the primary gateway into the digestive tract and lungs, a month is plenty of time for an infection to spread throughout the body.

Don’t let that infection progress into sepsis.

Flossing is King

Flossing after meals will give you the most mileage out of your teeth. Brushing is also important, but flossing goes even further. You can buy those flosser-picks, they work fine. But a roll of floss material (string) is better because it gives you greater flexibility in reaching all the hard places.