Abscessed Tooth Complications and Dangers
Left untreated, tooth abscess may compromise the immune system and in some cases may become life-threatening.
An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth. When you have tooth decay or gum disease, you can get infection deep within the tooth or gum. This infection is an abscessed tooth and can be very painful.
Alternative names of tooth abscess are periapical abscess, dental abscess, tooth infection, abscess – tooth.
Tooth Abscess Causes
The dental pulp, the only part of the tooth that’s sensitive to pain, is often well protected. The outer layers of the tooth – enamel, and dentin, the main part of the tooth – surround the fleshy, nerve-filled center. But if a tooth cracks or develops a deep cavity, the pulp can be exposed. Before long, bacteria will invade the center of the tooth and the pulp will start to die. As the tooth infection progresses, pockets of pus will form at the root of the tooth. This is called tooth abscess.
Sometimes a tooth abscess is excruciatingly painful and/or swollen, and at other times a patient will not even know it exists until he or she has a routine exam and/or x-ray.
Tooth Abscess Symptoms
- Toothache, dental pain
- Pain when chewing
- Sensitivity of the teeth to hot or cold
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath, breath odor
- Possible fever
- Swollen glands of the neck
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Swollen area of the upper or lower jaw – a very serious symptom
Tooth Abscess Misdiagnosis
Misdiagnosis can and does occur and is reasonably common with error rates ranging from 1.4% in cancer biopsies to a high 20-40% misdiagnosis rate in emergency or ICU care. Surveys of patients also indicate the chance of experiencing a misdiagnosis to range from 8% to 40%. This makes misdiagnosis one of the most common types of medical mistakes.
With a tooth abscess diagnosis, it is important to consider whether there is an underlying condition causing tooth abscess. These are other medical conditions that may possibly cause tooth abscess. Other conditions that might have Tooth abscess as a complication might be potential underlying conditions.
Tooth abscess misdiagnosis need not be a feared outcome. There are various ways to prevent tooth abscess misdiagnosis such as seeking a second opinion or a dental specialist referral. Getting educated about the possible alternative or underlying diagnoses for a condition is useful information to discuss with your dentist.
Abscessed Tooth Complications and Dangers
Untreated tooth abscess is very dangerous. If abscessed tooth left untreated, the tooth infection can spread and you can lose your tooth or have other health problems. Left untreated, tooth abscess may compromise the immune system and in some cases may become life-threatening.
A tooth abscess complication includes tooth loss, jaw bone damage, neighboring tooth damage or loss, sinus problems, brain abscess, heart damage, hospitalization, coma, and even death.
Some more tooth abscess complications that have been very much explained already: Facial Disfigurement as it eats away the facial bones; teeth falling out as the tooth abscess destroys the jaw holding the tooth; the picture is pretty gruesome.
Here is the list of abscessed tooth complications:
- Loss of the tooth
- Spread of infection to soft tissue (facial cellulitis, Ludwig’s angina)
- Spread of infection to the jaw bone (osteomyelitis of the mandible or maxilla)
- Sinusitis, it is any infection or inflammation of the sinus cavities behind the nose and eyes. It is very common with an estimated 37 million cases annually in the USA. Symptoms vary according to which sinus cavity is infected.
- Spread of infection to other areas of the body resulting in cerebral abscess, endocarditis, pneumonia, or other disorders
A rare abscessed tooth complications – Ludwig’s angina and mediastinitis. While a life-threatening deep neck infection is an uncommon complication of tooth abscess, dentists should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms. The patient should be examined for swelling below the inferior border of the mandible, fever, excessive trismus, floor of mouth or tongue elevations, and deviation of the pharyngeal walls. In addition, the signs of an impending airway disaster, including muffled voice, inability to tolerate secretions and protruding tongue, should be carefully evaluated. Quick referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon and early definitive care will minimize the morbidity and mortality of these serious infections.
The Worst Abscessed Tooth Danger – Death
Tooth abscess can cause the death of the tooth and it can literally be the death of you. If a tooth abscess if left untreated it can grow and spread through the soft tissue of the face and cause dramatic outward facial swelling called cellulitis.
If a person waits until the gum is so swollen that they have difficulty breathing or opening their mouth, the situation is very dangerous. It is not the “poison” of infection that makes the tooth abscess deadly, but its growth that can choke off our ability to breathe. That is the type of tooth abscess that can kill if left untreated.
Tooth Abscess Prevention
Prompt treatment of dental caries reduces the risk of tooth abscess. Traumatized teeth should be examined promptly by the dentist. Never leave tooth abscess to it’s own end and where-ever possible, get to a dentist as soon as possible.
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