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Sep 5 - Unemployed man with no health insurance dies after minor tooth infection spreads to brain


An unemployed Cincinnati man with no health insurance died after a tooth infection spread to his brain because he couldn't afford treatment, relatives said.

Kyle Willis, 24, came down with a toothache two weeks ago and was told he needed to have one of his wisdom teeth removed.

But Willis - whose uncle is famed bass player Bootsy Collins - decided to tough it out because he was out of work and couldn't afford the treatment.

Soon after, he began getting headaches and his face swelled, so he went to an emergency room. He was told an infection was in danger of spreading to his brain.

"The [doctors] gave him antibiotic and pain medication, but he couldn't afford to pay for the antibiotic, so he chose the pain meds, which was not what he needed," Willis' aunt Patti Collins told WLWT-TV.

While Willis' discomfort subsided, the infection continued to spread, causing lethal swelling in his brain.

Willis died Wednesday, Collins said.

"He should have gone to the dentist to take care of the toothache, and it wouldn't have escalated to all of this," she said.

He leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter.

Experts say Willis' story is not unique, but such a deadly situation can usually be stopped by simple, preventative dental procedures.

"People don't realize that dental disease can cause serious illness," Dr. Irvin Silverstein of the University of California at San Diego told ABCNews. "People end up dying, and these are the most treatable, preventable diseases in the world."

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 Unemployed man with no health insurance dies after minor tooth infection spreads to brain