Bootsy Collins’ Nephew Dead at 24
Saturday, September 3, 2011
The 24-year-old nephew of ’70s funk star Bootsy Collins has died after a tooth infection spread to his brain.
Kyle Willis went to a hospital complaining of a toothache two weeks ago Collins’ wife Patti told The Cincinnati Enquirer. The father of a 6-year-old girl had no health insurance and could not afford the $ 27 for his antibiotic prescription.
The tooth infection quickly spread to his brain and Willis died at the University Hospital in Cincinnati where he was transported after becoming violently combative and delirious.
The infection was able to spread to his brain through one of the few openings in the blood-brain barrier that normally protects the brain and spinal cord from infection elsewhere in the body.
The blood-brain barrier is a collection of cells wrapped tightly like a net around tiny blood vessels in the brain that acts as a filter to prevent the passage of large objects like bacteria and virus into the brain from the blood stream in your body.
The roots of your teeth sit within inches of the brain and are not behind the blood-brain barrier. Therefore your brain is not protected from dental infections.
Tooth infections can also spread in the opposite direction to your heart and cause sudden death. A toothache by itself may not cause problems. It’s when there is an infection present in the gum and it gets into the bloodstream when the gum is opened up by a dentist or there is trauma to the tooth.
This is why it’s important to take your child to the dentist when he or she complains of a toothache. It’s also why the dentist prescribes antibiotics prior to some dental procedures as a preventive measure to protect the brain and heart against infection in the tooth.
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