The Dangers of an Untreated Abscess

The Dangers of an Untreated Abscess

Having a tooth abscess means that you have an infection from bacteria inside your dental pulp. Consider an abscess a dental emergency. It requires prompt treatment to prevent serious complications later. Since leaving an abscess untreated could become life-threatening, it’s important to understand the complications associated with this type of infection.

When to See a Dentist

When to See a DentistWhen should you see a dentist in Phoenix about a tooth abscess? If you have any signs of this type of infection, you need to be seen as soon as possible, so call an emergency dentist. These signs include:

  • Severe and ongoing toothache that might cause pain in other areas, such as your neck, jaw or ear
  • Fever
  • Difficulty chewing due to sensitivity
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Facial swelling
  • Swollen lymph nodes near your jaw or neck

If you experience difficulty breathing or swallowing, along with a fever, you’ll need to go to an emergency room for immediate care. When you have these symptoms, there’s a strong chance your infection has affected other parts of your body. This can become a life-threatening situation quickly, so you’ll need immediate care. If your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, contact an emergency dentist to get in as soon as possible.

Abscess Complications

Abscess ComplicationsWhat can happen if you don’t have an abscess treated? Tooth abscesses will remain until they’re properly drained and treated. In some cases, they can rupture, which means you might suddenly have a salty, foul fluid in your mouth. While this usually eases any pain you feel, you need to see a dentist for proper care to stop the infection.

When a tooth abscess does not rupture or drain, the bacteria causing this infection can reach other areas of your body. This typically starts with your jaw tissue and spreads to your neck, head and other parts of your body. In severe cases, this can lead to a condition called sepsis, which occurs when bacteria enter your bloodstream. Sepsis is a potentially fatal condition that requires emergency medical care.

Risk Factors for Complications

Anyone who has a tooth abscess can end up with complications when left untreated. However, your risk of  complications increases if you have an underlying medical condition that affects your immune system, such as an autoimmune disease or diabetes.

Treatment for a Tooth Abscess

What can you expect when you have a tooth abscess treated? Dentists treat these infections by draining the abscess, which involves cutting into it. The affected area is then cleaned and rinsed. Depending on other factors, such as whether or not the tooth can be saved, you might also need other dental work done. Root canals can help get rid of this type of infection while preserving your tooth. If your tooth cannot be saved, you will need to have it pulled. You might also need to take antibiotics if the bacteria from this infection have reached other areas.

Preventing a Tooth Abscess

Preventing a Tooth AbscessSince bacteria in the dental pulp inside teeth can lead to abscesses, it’s important to protect your teeth from decay and damage. You can do so in the following ways:

  • See a dentist right away to have any cracks or other damage to your teeth fixed and prevent bacteria from getting in
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day or more often to lower your risk of tooth decay
  • Get a new toothbrush every few months, since bacteria can build up on the bristles over time
  • Drink water that is fluoridated and use mouthwashes that have fluoride to strengthen your tooth enamel
  • Go for regular dental cleanings and exams every six months and have fluoride treatment done during these appointments
  • Avoid foods and beverages that contain high amounts of sugar, such as soda, candy and baked goods

Keep in mind that good dental hygiene and regular dental cleanings are even more important if you have a higher risk of developing a tooth abscess. A diet that is high in sugar, a dry mouth due to aging or some medications and poor dental hygiene all raise your risk of having a tooth abscess.


Preventing a tooth abscess is the best possible option for your ongoing dental health. But when an abscess occurs, make sure you see a qualified emergency dentist you trust. Dental Brothers is here to help you maintain your dental health every day and in those emergency situations when you can’t wait for your next regular appointment.