A 24-year-old man from Cincinnati died Wednesday from a tooth infection, doctors at the University Hospital in Cincinnati said.
The man, Kyle Willis, nephew of the famous musician Bootsy Collins and father of a 6-year-old girl, died after an infection on his wisdom tooth spread to his brain because he couldn't afford an antibiotic prescribed by the doctors, reported NBC affiliate WLWT.
"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", Patti Collins, aunt of Kyle told the channel.
The death of the young man shocked his family members and has exposed the reality of many Americans who lack health insurance to cover their dental care.
"What do you mean they're calling the family? (My daughter) said, 'Mom, the infection he had in his tooth has gone to his brain", Collins told WLWT.
About 33 percent of people skip dental care or dental checkups because they can't afford them, according to a study in April from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In 2003, about 108 million Americans had no dental insurance, according to a report from the U.S. Surgeon General.
Across the country there are several free dental clinics but even if Willis have had access to one of those it couldn't have saved his life because the wait is often months.