A 26-Year-Old Dad Died From Toothache. Now Experts Are Warning Others Not To Make The Same Mistake

Image: via Vlad Kazimirets

Good health is perhaps one of the most crucial components of a happy life. And, fortunately, medical knowledge has come on in leaps and bounds over the centuries, meaning doctors can now successfully treat almost anything that ails you or your loved ones. We certainly shouldn’t discount dentists’ role in keeping us well, either.

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Yes, even if you practice meticulous dental hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, you may find yourself suffering from issues with your teeth. Should such problems arise, though, dentists are on hand to look at them. And in 2017 Vadim Anatoliyevich Kondratyuk definitely found himself in need of some treatment.

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At that time, Vadim was traveling from California to New York in his truck to complete a job. As the journey progressed, however, he developed a toothache that caused him to make a brief stop in Oklahoma. And upon a visit to a local dentist, the driver ultimately discovered that the pain stemmed from an infection.

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After that, Vadim resumed his trip to New York feeling a lot better. The discomfort returned, however, as he approached the Big Apple, leading him to contact his wife, Nataliya. And as Vadim’s condition deteriorated, the trucker’s brother tried to get him back home. Tragically, though, the stricken man passed away in Utah a few days later.

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It’s fair to say that a visit to the dentist can be quite daunting. Indeed, the thought of having someone poke around your mouth with strange utensils – not to mention terrifying drills – is just too much for some people. Despite any fears we may have, though, we all know that regular check-ups are incredibly important in maintaining the health of our teeth.

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And throughout the centuries, dental care has continued to evolve. Looking after our teeth certainly isn’t a new practice, either. Indeed, research unveiled in 2017 suggests that people from over 100,000 years ago used their own implements to keep their mouths healthy and clean.

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It’s also believed that members of South Asia’s Indus Valley Civilization were being treated by dentists from around 7,000 B.C. In addition, studies have further revealed that ancient Malta housed some dental practitioners in approximately 2,500 B.C. However, the first officially recorded dentist was actually someone who lived in Ancient Egypt.

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Hesy-Ra was the man in question, and he ultimately earned the nickname “Great one of the dentists.” And in the centuries that followed, different aspects of dentistry continued to crop up in the archaeological record – through writing or physical evidence of treatment.

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Then, in 1530, the first book dedicated to dental practice – a European publication titled Artzney Buchlein – was released. English readers were made to wait for over 150 years, though, before a similar text hit their shelves. That book was named Operator for the Teeth and had been penned by a man named Charles Allen.

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And perhaps one man more than any other played a crucial role in the progression of dentistry. Throughout the 1700s, you see, French doctor Pierre Fauchard not only developed a number of tools that were intended for dentists’ use, but he also pioneered the practice of filling teeth.

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Fauchard’s work didn’t end there, either, as he also helped develop braces and dental prosthetics. It’s perhaps no wonder, then, that the physician has since earned the nickname “the father of modern dentistry.” And hundreds of years later, dentists still employ most of the treatments that Fauchard spearheaded at their respective practices.

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However, while dentists have all the equipment they need to treat their patients today, they still face some lingering issues. And arguably one of the biggest concerns is ensuring that people see them on a regular basis so that they can help keep their mouths and teeth healthy. The American Dental Association even felt the need to release a statement on the matter in 2013.

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“To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends regular dental visits at intervals determined by a dentist,” the statement read. And from there, the organization revealed why it was sharing this message with the public.

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The statement continued, “In the June 10 [2013] issue of the [Journal of Dental Research], researchers from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry explored the link between long-term tooth loss and frequency of preventive dental visits in adults with and without three risk factors for periodontal disease: smoking, diabetes and interleukin-1 genetic variations.”

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The ADA then revealed exactly what the research had found. “The study concluded that individual risk factors help to dictate the frequency of cleanings needed per year to help prevent periodontal disease,” the organization explained. “Based on data analysis, researchers speculate that high-risk patients would likely benefit from more frequent dental visits.”

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And the ADA came to a conclusion of its own at the end of the statement. According to the association, those results prove that people shouldn’t neglect visiting their dentists. “The key takeaway for consumers is that personalized oral care is a necessity for good dental health,” it added.

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The message therefore concluded, “The ADA encourages people to work closely with their dentists to identify any potential risk factors that would determine the need for – and frequency of – follow-up visits,” the message concluded. But while the organization did its part to inform the public, in January 2017 a simple toothache seemingly led to a man’s death.

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A resident of Antelope, California, Vadim spent his formative years in the Golden State after his family had left their home country of Ukraine. And he met his partner, Nataliya – who is also originally from the Eastern European country – as a teen, with the couple eventually tying the knot in 2012.

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After that, the pair became the proud parents of two young girls named Maya and Vanessa. And to put food on the table, Vadim plied his trade as a trucker while his wife looked after their daughters at home. So, in early 2017, the Californian took on a long-distance job that required him to drive all the way to New York.

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Vadim thus took to the road in late January from the California town of Truckee. Part-way through the trip, however, the driver started to feel some pain in his mouth, and this led him to make a quick stop in Oklahoma to visit one of the local dentists.

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Then, following an examination, Vadim was informed that he had a tooth infection, which was subsequently treated at the practice. The dentist also handed him some antibiotics before sending him on his way. Now feeling much better, the trucker went back to his vehicle and hit the road again.

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However, the toothache eventually returned, leaving Vadim in a lot of discomfort. And the pain steadily became more intolerable while he headed towards New York, as he mentioned to Nataliya in a number of different phone calls. But the father of two was still able to complete the trip, as ultimately he arrived in the Big Apple.

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By this time, though, Vadim’s mouth had swollen up – only adding to the pain he was already in. The trucker realized, too, that he was unable to make the return journey back to California. But there was at least some good news to be had: Vadim’s brother came to his aid and booked a flight to New York.

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Then, after Vadim’s brother arrived in the city, the pair boarded the truck, got back on the road and headed for California. Unfortunately, though, Vadim’s condition deteriorated further over the course of that trip. His skin had lost color, for one, and he was also finding it harder to breathe.

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So, Vadim’s sibling made an emergency stop in Utah, where he took his brother to a hospital. Before long, the father of two was then transported to another clinic located in Salt Lake City, where he received some further treatment and was hooked up to a kidney dialysis machine.

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It turned out that the infection from Vadim’s tooth had spread to other parts of his body, including his lungs. So, with the situation looking bleak, Nataliya headed to Utah to sit by her ailing husband. And, sadly, on the morning of January 30, 2017, Vadim passed away as a result of the infection.

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“[The doctors] had [Vadim] on medication. They tried everything they could,” Nataliya later told The Sacramento Bee. “We prayed for him that day [and] that night, hoping he was going to survive. But God has his plan. We had a talk with the doctors, and they told us how this all happened.”

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Nataliya went on, “[The infection] was just not healing how it was supposed to. It was just getting worse.” The mom of two also discovered that Vadim had been suffering from diabetes prior to his death. And diabetes was one of the risk factors previously flagged up by the ADA, as the condition can also cause problems with teeth.

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“There’s a host of studies indicating that people with diabetes are at greater risk of [cavities and tooth decay], periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, you name it,” Dr. Richard Niederman of the NYU College of Dentistry told People in 2017. “It puts you in a higher risk category.”

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Then Dr. Niederman then tried to explain how a tooth infection could cause someone to die. Yes, while such a condition may initially appear fairly innocuous, any kind of untreated infection can ultimately prove catastrophic. And tragically for Vadim’s young family, that’s exactly what happened to him.

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“Any infection anywhere in the body can lead to death if it’s uncontrolled,” Dr. Niederman continued. “So if you have an infection in the tooth, that infection eats away at the tooth. It’s a bacterial infection, [so] it releases acid. And the acid etches the tooth just like acid would etch glass.”

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Dr. Niederman added, “Over time, that etching becomes a hole. That hole gets to the pulp, the nerves and the blood vessels, and now the bacteria can enter the body.” According to Nataliya, Vadim had seen his dentist a short time before his passing, but that visit had been in order to treat an issue with one of the trucker’s other teeth.

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In Dr. Niederman’s mind, then, the situation could have been easily avoided if the infection was noticed sooner. “There are home and office methods to prevent it that are underused – particularly by dentists,” the physician told People. “This is probably somebody who had had an ongoing problem that wasn’t addressed by anybody.”

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And Nataliya’s brother would go on to shed some light on how she was coping after Vadim’s sudden passing. Unsurprisingly, the heartbreaking events of those few days had taken their toll on the Antelope resident. “She is doing okay,” Vlad Kazimirets told People. “But it’s been really hard for her.”

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Vlad seemingly tried to lessen the load for his sister, however, by setting up a GoFundMe fund for Nataliya and her family on the day of Vadim’s death. And on the page for the campaign – which had a target of $250,000 – he chose to praise his late brother-in-law.

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“Vadim was a very humble and calm person [and] a wonderful father, husband, brother, son and friend,” Vlad wrote on the fundraising website. “He always put others before himself and was the peacemaker. He had a very close and special relationship with his two daughters, and he loved spending time with his family.”

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From there, Vlad explained how any money given would be spent. “Your donations will be used to pay for funeral and living expenses and to create a safety net for the future welfare of [Vadim’s] young family,” he continued. “These funds will also be used to help pay for the transport of [his] body.”

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Vlad added, “[Vadim’s body] is out of state and will need to be brought back home to Sacramento, CA, for the funeral and burial.” And people would respond to the appeal in their droves, as within a matter of days the GoFundMe page brought in close to $200,000.

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Vlad returned to the website, too, to reveal the family’s reaction to the heartfelt gestures. “On behalf of Nataliya, her daughters and all of [their] family, thank you sincerely for your support during this difficult time!” he wrote. “We have been blown away by the love and kindness we have been shown by our friends, family, community and even strangers.”

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Vadim was finally laid to rest in a Sacramento cemetery on the morning of February 4, 2017. The evening prior, the Slavic Trinity Church had held a special service in commemoration of the late father, where people had come together to remember him. And since Vadim’s passing, the GoFundMe page has raised almost $280,000 – far surpassing the original target.

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