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What Is A Tooth Abscess And How It Can Lead To Sepsis?

What Is A Tooth Abscess And How It Can Lead To Sepsis

Neglecting tooth decay can be deadly. It can lead to a tooth abscess which is a sign of tooth infection. An untreated tooth abscess can host several complications and lead to life-threatening conditions like sepsis. Learn more about a tooth abscess and why it’s essential to treat it as soon as possible. 

If you are experiencing tooth decay, contact Dr. Roy Jennings for an appointment!

What is a tooth abscess?

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection found in either tip of the tooth root or the gums at the side of the tooth. When the bacteria reach the dental pulp containing the tooth nerves and blood vessels, the disease-causing bacteria can spread to the other parts of your body. Three types of a tooth abscess include:

  • Periapical abscess:  A bacterial infection found at the tip of the tooth root usually caused by tooth decay.
  • Periodontal abscess: A bacterial infection appears as a small lump in the gums caused by gum disease. 
  • Gingival abscess: A bacterial infection when food debris gets into the gums or an injury starts an infection.

What causes an abscessed tooth?

An untreated tooth decay, cracked or chipped tooth becomes a passage of bacteria to attack the dental pulp. A bacterial infection will start from the tooth pulp and start moving below the gum line, which will trigger an immune response from our body in the form of an abscess. 

Immunocompromised or patients with weak immune systems like diabetes are more susceptible to a tooth abscess. Other factors include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • High-sugar diet


Early stages of tooth abscess may not feel any pain or swelling at first. As soon as your body sends the dead white blood cells to the infected area, you may start to experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain around your ear, jaw, or neck
  • Pain when chewing, biting, or when you lie down
  • Swollen gums
  • Halitosis or bad breath
  • Fever
  • Foul or metallic taste in your mouth
  • Lumps or swollen lymph nodes in your neck or under your jaw
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Swollen face

How can a tooth abscess lead to sepsis?

Sepsis is a deadly response of our body to fight infection. It occurs when a bacterial infection runs through the blood, and our body fights it with body-wide inflammation. If a tooth abscess is left untreated, the bacteria can trigger a chain reaction from tissue damage to organ failure leading to septic shock or sepsis. 

Dental treatments for tooth abscess

A tooth abscess does not heal through antibiotics without draining the abscess. After draining the infection, your dentist will provide a dental restoration, depending on your dental condition. Once done, you will be prescribed antibiotics to flush out the remaining bacteria in the infected area and your bloodstream.

Our team always educates our patients about the risks associated with tooth abscess and reminds them not to take tooth decay lightly. We at Dr. Roy Jennings Dentistry provide restorative treatments in Monroe to treat tooth abscess and other dental conditions, including: 

  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canal therapy
  • Dental pulp treatments
  • Dental crown

Schedule an appointment now and prevent your tooth abscess from getting worse. When it comes to health, nothing beats prevention if your dental condition can cost your life. 

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