Tips to Avoid Dental and Eye Infections

Recognizing World Health Day, April 7, 2011


During your life, you may have experienced a variety of infections – some minor, some more severe. Despite the type of infection, it is important to provide appropriate care to avoid serious health concerns.

The focus for World Health Day 2011 is Combat Drug Resistance. Individuals are encouraged to stay healthy and avoid overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial medicines; participate in regular exercise programs; practice good hand washing; pursue preventive care options; and schedule a doctor’s appointment to treat infections in the early stages – especially when it comes to vision and oral health.

Eye Infections

Americans typically encounter these common eye infections:

  • Pink eye or conjunctivitis – Highly contagious; often spreads in childcare centers or school environments
  • Ocular herpes – Occurs through exposure to the herpes simplex virus
  • Acanthamoeba keratits – Affects contact lens wearers; acanthamoeba parasites found in soils, swimming pools, lakes or streams invade and infect the eye

Individuals often can prevent eye infections by thoroughly washing their hands before touching their eyes and avoiding contact with individuals who have contagious eye infections. Contact lens wearers should follow safety and care guidelines provided by their eye doctor.

Symptoms. Eye infection symptoms include pain, sensitivity to light, blurred vision or redness. Several other eye conditions can mimic these same symptoms, so it’s important to contact your eye doctor to discuss your symptoms.

Dental Infections

When bacteria from tooth decay gets into the gums, cheek, throat, under the tongue or in the jaw or facial bones, it creates an infection called a dental abscess. It’s a painful condition, and as pus collects in the infected area, the pain becomes progressively worse until the abscess ruptures and drains independently, or it is surgically drained.

Dental infections usually occur when individuals do not take good care of their teeth and gums. But this type of infection also may occur in individuals with an autoimmune disorder or weakened immune system due to diabetes or post-radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. A dental abscess also may develop when individuals experience a mild trauma to the mouth.

Symptoms. As a dental abscess develops, individuals experience a variety of symptoms: oral tissue swelling, redness of the mouth and face or tenderness and pain when the area is touched. In some advanced cases, symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, pus drainage, or difficulty and pain when opening the mouth or swallowing. With any sign of oral discomfort, individuals should contact their dentist to discuss symptoms and schedule an appointment.

To avoid dental infections, adopt good daily oral health habits, including brushing teeth after meals, flossing, using an antiseptic mouthwash and scheduling regular dental appointments for check ups and cleanings, as directed by your dentist.

If you’ve had a dental or eye infection, what was the cause? How was the problem treated? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group