He Gives Me Fever?
January 27, 2010 2:48 PM   Subscribe

Just got back from the dentist an hour ago, now I feel like I have a fever. Related?

I went to the dentist for the first time in a few years, got a complete checkup and cleaning, the works. I felt fine when I got there, but by the time I got home I felt a little funny -- a little feverish, a little achey, a little chilly.

My mom claims this happens sometimes because of bacteria released during the cleaning. "This fast though?" I asked. Yes, this fast, she says. But mom is not a dentist or doctor, and neither are you. You are just someone who has probably been to the dentist more times as an adult than I have.

Googling shows me that some people say it's could be related, but I don't trust any pseudomedical advice that isn't printed in white text on a green background.
posted by hermitosis to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could be an allergic reaction to allergens in the office or from chemicals/tools.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:54 PM on January 27, 2010

I have not been the dentist as an adult as often as I should have...especially in my wilder late 20s. My teeth - or former teeth in some instance - can attest to this and were not pleased.

But because of that, I can speak to this point by adding you a data point, that a similar thing happened to me. I probably had a lot more bacteria being released than was common. But my symptoms were sort of fevery and just sort of nasty feeling like a bug was coming on, even though my mouth felt so very very clean. It went away that night/the next day.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:04 PM on January 27, 2010

Well, I swear that every time I go for a cleaning I get an tooth infection a day or two later. Granted I have (had) 2 teeth that needed to be extracted but didn't feel infected until only after the cleaning. So I'll go with your mom on this and say that cleaning releases some bacteria that may have been trapped under tartar, your gum line, between teeth etc...
posted by eatcake at 3:30 PM on January 27, 2010

bacteria released during the cleaning

"released" isn't the greatest word to use in this context, but yes a fever generally indicates infection.

It could be viral or bacterial, either passed on from the dentist / oral hygienist, from poorly sterilized equipment, or from yourself (e.g. bacteria that is harmless on your skin or in your mouth but harmful when it infects a cut in your cheek, lips or gums.) It could be minor or it could be serious. It could just be a coincidence -- i.e. a bug you picked up somewhere else, unrelated to your visit to the dentist.

In other words, it could be anything...the information you have is too vague to draw any conclusions. Take an aspirin and call the doctor in the morning.

could be an allergic reaction

Fevers are rare with allergic reactions.
posted by randomstriker at 3:35 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Absolutely you can get a significant number of bacteria in your bloodstream following a dental cleaning, especially if your teeth and gums are not in great shape; see here for experimental evidence. The significance of this is debatable; this search gives articles both pro and con as to how important it is in patients at risk for endocarditis, where it matters much more than in the average patient. So, taking a phrase from Jeff Beck and others, is your fever related to your dentist visit? Definitely maybe.
posted by TedW at 3:41 PM on January 27, 2010

Here's the ADA's take on what TedW was saying.
posted by 517 at 4:15 PM on January 27, 2010

You feel like you have a fever, or you actually have a fever? Have you taken your temperature?
posted by limeonaire at 4:15 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Incubation time for disease is generally on the order of days. You might have likely caught something a couple days ago, if it is bacterial or viral, and the symptoms are just showing now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2010

FWIW, I've been to the dentist about six times this year for different things. In almost all cases I felt a little flush/off after the fact. Usually by the next day or late evening I would feel perfectly normal.
posted by fake at 4:21 PM on January 27, 2010

One thing that might contribute to that feeling is the crash you might get after releasing all of the anxiety you might have had about going. I get that reaction quite a bit.
Bacteremia (the release of microorganisms into your bloodstream) could also be a contributing factor, but isn't harmful unless you've got artificial joints or faulty heart valves.
Get some rest and if you're still feeling awful tomorrow it may be that you were on the verge of something before you went.
Obviously, IANYD.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:43 PM on January 27, 2010

Do you (did you) actually have a fever? That's the first thing every doctor or nurse practitioner has asked me when I mentioned having felt feverish. It can also be a useful indicator of how serious things are... 99.1 vs. 102 degrees is an important data point.
posted by vytae at 5:24 PM on January 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fevers are rare with allergic reactions

The OP didnt verify he/she has a fever, just that it "feels like fever." Allergic reactions like hay fever are called that for a reason.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:37 PM on January 27, 2010

So, within about two hours of asking the question, all my symptoms went away.

I really did think I had a fever, but I didn't have a thermometer handy. I do think it was definitely related to the dental work. Thanks everyone for your speculations, links, and musings.
posted by hermitosis at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2010

When one of our horses got his teeth floated last year ("floating" = having any sharp points literally filed off) the vet said one tooth felt a little loose, probably due to a slight abscess, which wouldn't otherwise have been a problem (would have cleared up on its own), but she was putting him on antibiotics for a few days because of the combination of abscess+dental work. Floating is obviously a little more vigorous than a normal cleaning procedure and most humans don't get/go to the doctor in case of tooth abscesses, so human mileage may vary.

(Just a data point for anyone who finds this thread later. Glad to hear you're feeling better.)
posted by anaelith at 4:02 AM on January 29, 2010

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