So, not for the first time, the modern world is saving my life

This is something that we would currently call trivial. An abscess under a tooth causing the jaw and cheek to blow up. Becoming distinctly painful.

I’ve just started a €5 euro course of amoxicillin, something that is up there at 99 to 99.9% certain to take care of it. If it doesn’t there are other things behind that to do so.

And 100 years ago there wouldn’t have been that thing. And yes, people did die – agonisingly actually – as a result of abcesses. Pulling the tooth might clear it up, might not.

Just a little thought to cheer me up while I wait for the swelling to go down.

32 thoughts on “So, not for the first time, the modern world is saving my life”

  1. BlokeInTejasInNormandy

    As a man of honour, sir, you must resist using this created tool of the oppressive Patriarchy and die horribly in agony.

    Well, actually, I reckon it might be better to write an article for the Guardian exploring this sort of demented thinking. You might even get paid!

    Meanwhile best o luck with the drugs and healing.

  2. … there are other things behind that to do so.

    I’ve been down that route and it’s not pretty. Hours of torture in the chair. I’d keep my fingers crossed.

  3. @Tim W

    What dose of amoxicillin?

    If amoxicillin doesn’t work; try metronidazole – warning: no alcohol or vinegar.

    Try syringing Chlorhexidine (eg Corsodyl) to flush out pocket – slide 25/27g needle (bend it first) down side of tooth and beneath gum.

  4. One does not expect to die of dental problems today. My mother’s uncle died of septicaemia following a tooth extraction (immediately prior to WW2 in 1939) – presumably a similar case.
    That was 79 not 100 years ago.

  5. Wife’s a dentist (after first becoming a doctor). Quite good too. However for personal reasons, I do admit to behaving myself scrupulously well at home for a few days before a professional visit.

    Many years ago, while she was still in training, a friend in your situation came to visit, in agony she was, the poor girl.

    Unfortunately, the antibiotic takes a long time and the pain doesn’t subside meantime. So my nearest and dearest whipped out a scalpel (in our living room) and sliced into the abcess.

    Not a pretty sight as the drainage was more of a flood of yuck, but the poor woman cried in relief afterwards. The cut didn’t seem to hurt..

    Hope you have a reasonable night. It is one of the more unpleasant pains to have.

    And you are right. Anybody is richer than a millionaire at the beginning of the 20thC. You don’t die of this now.

  6. Pcar: Ouch!

    Been there, done that Tim. My sympathies.

    A root with a peg for a crown cracked recently, so it had to come out. Not pleasant. Now with a temporary denture until I can have a jaw implant. Not looking forward to the procedure or the cost:(

  7. There’s something to be said for modern medicine.

    It prevents us from dying from horrible things so we can live long to experience even more horrible things.

    Think Alzheimer’s, dementia. macular degeneration, etc., here.

  8. I learnt recently that 30-40% of people with amyloid plaques don’t have Alzheimer’s. But to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s you have to have amyloid plaques.

    So perhaps here’s another illness where the “cause” ain’t a cause. Like heart attacks and high LDL (cholesterol).

  9. Christopher Hitchens (MHRIP) always used to make a point of noting that our forebears often suffered much-reduced lifespans due to the suprising number who died (as he said) ‘of their teeth’. How quickly we forget the shortened lifespans and often-horrible ends that have been eliminated from our species by basic dentistry and a half-a-dozen cheaper-than-dirt antibiotics.

  10. First: Local Anaesthetics (Lignocaine etc) don’t work well on inflamed tissue – but, relief when “fixed” overwhelming.

    @bilbaoboy, December 2, 2018 at 9:08 pm


    Mrs Pcar a dentist too. Flushing less “brutal” and maybe more DIYable. Lancing too instantly relieves pressure & pain.


    Needle down tooth side to flush is almost painless IF no gum penetration. Target is a pus-filled void, not tissue.

    @Tim W, amox dose is vital: UK dentist dose is UK GP 5/7 Days, in two days.

    @llamas, December 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm


  11. Employee of mine, Claude, French Canadian, is subject to abscesses.

    He sticks a needle in them to let the pus flow. It seems to cure him for a few months.

    I am absolutely not joking or exaggerating. I have watched him do it, and been astonished, having had a few abscesses and root canals myself. The stench is vile, but it seems to work.

  12. Yeah, I’d happily give up most of the trimmings of modern life (well, I say I would), but not medicine, oh no!

  13. Good luck. My wife got toothache and a swollen eye one Sunday, and the top six Google hits basically said “get treatment NOW or risk death.” So we did (A&E called out the duty dentist), and all was eventually well.

  14. Not fun. I had the same thing a few years back due to wisdom teeth issues – I looked like a one sided chipmunk.
    The pain was pretty godawful and even strong co-codomal barely touched it
    Metronidazole sorted it in double quick time once prescribed. But as noted above, absolutely no booze with it – tough when you work in the wine industry…
    Corsodyl and warm salt water are your friends.

  15. Tractor Gent:

    I’m going through exactly that treatment at the moment, had the bone graft done last week. So far the most painful part of the whole procedure has been the pain felt in my wallet – £5,100 for two teeth to be removed, graft to fill the loss of bone due to infection, then two implants.

  16. njc

    Did you consider Prague or Budapest? Good dentistry at half to two thirds the price.

    Funny thing, teeth. Major vector for infections. I was hospitalised in Italy with pericarditis – no fun – which they traced to a viral infection entering the bloodstream through my gums.

  17. Hope that works quickly.

    Lot less than a hundred years – I can remember amoxycillin being introduced as the leading-edge anti-bacterial (the first to tackle both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria). Now it’s a standard treatment.

  18. Recusant:
    No, as it’s a series of treatments over a period of at least 6 months though if it had been a one-off I’d have seriously considered it.

  19. My trouble all started at Kempton Park race course on Boxing Day 1985. Bit into a burger and thought um this has got a lot of gristle in it. Then realised the gristle was half a tooth. Cue a filling. Thirty three years the filling fell out and the tooth had to come out, as it was mobile and prone to abscesses. The last one was painful, but the antibiotics sorted it out.

    Now going down the implant route, which will significantly damage my wallet. But for just one the toing and froing to Budapest just not worth the hassle.

  20. Tim,
    Get well soon fella. From an economic perspective….a lot of people from the UK of our vintage have had a pretty rotten time with their teeth because of the ‘Australian Trench’, whereby the NHS in the 1960/70s paid dentists by the filling and a whole load of unscrupulous Australian dentists responded to the economic incentive. I was fortunate, by the age of 10 I had received 6 minor (and almost certainly unnecessary) fillings but had naturally strong teeth and quite literally haven’t had one since. Many others I know having had their teeth seriously weakened by the Oz tooth miners have suffered years of replacement fillings, possible amalgam related sickness and of course root canal agonies. I wonder if anyone has done a formal study on British dental health following stupid policy? Incentives matter!

  21. My cousin’s best friend’s daughter qualified as a dentist and joined my local practice. I saw her a couple of times for checkups and then she disappeared. Word got back to me that she’d been told she wasn’t doing enough fillings. When she pointed out that there was no need for them in the patients she saw, she was told ‘you can always find something’.

  22. @ Chris Miller
    Maybe that explains why I had so many more fillings after I moved south to Buckinghamshire (I thought it was due to the habit of eating sweets on any colleague’s birthday): back home our dentist was a personal friend of my parents/ the parent of a schoolfriend and I had excellent teeth – one filling in twenty-two years.

  23. Saw a new dentist yesterday. I still have 6 amalgam fillings (from a Boys from Brazil dentist in the 70s) that he will remove using a mouth guard and nose mask. The practice has a GP to handle chelation and other issues.

    I have serious neuropathic problems and epilepsy that could be from heavy metal poisoning. Thanks to the epilepsy, I lost a vertebra and the quads in my right leg won’t work.

    Umpteen neurologists, MRIs etc. but none of the buggers gave a thought to my teeth.

    I made an appointment because I chipped a tooth eating a slice of toast.

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