Right from chewing while eating our food to talking, our teeth have a crucial role to play in all these functions. We may not realize it, but these white structures are vulnerable to acid attacks from our food, bacteria from the air, and changes in the pH levels of our saliva. That explains why even those few people who visit the dentist regularly, land up with a tooth decay at times. If this tooth decay is allowed to progress without any intervention, it can lead to a tooth abscess.
Basically, tooth abscess occurs when the infection reaches the bone surrounding the tooth, long after one has ignored various tooth infection symptoms that hint at the approaching problem.
Abscessed Tooth Complications and Dangers
Ignorance about complications associated with abscessed tooth makes people take these problems lightly. In a broad sense, these dangers can be categorized into three distinct categories on the basis of which part of the oral cavity is affected and how severe the problem is. Given below are the details of various risks associated with abscessed tooth.
First, let us discuss the possible outcomes that the person may suffer which are related to his teeth and oral cavity. To begin with, the person will definitely complain of pain. This pain may eventually radiate to other parts of the oral cavity, and―at times―hinder the person's ability to eat properly. When the infection reaches the bone, then the chances of same spreading to the other teeth present in the vicinity increase. Also, the infection hollows out and weakens the bone, due to which the tooth may become mobile in its socket and eventually just fall out.
The loss of tooth does not necessarily imply that the infection is gone. The infection and pus continue to spread in the bone and may eventually lead to problems in other teeth and even gum swelling. The problem related to loss of tooth is not just restricted to hindered ability to chew, but may also result in other teeth moving into this newfound empty space, eventually resulting in crowding of teeth.
Extra Oral Problems
As we mentioned earlier, the spread of infection in the bone due to an abscess related to the tooth may affect more than just the teeth. If antibiotics are not administered in time, the infection spreads in the bone as the bone has a very rich blood supply. So, the infection may spread to the entire jawbone and lead to a condition known as osteomyelitis. In this condition, the jawbone becomes deeply infected and if not dealt in time, may even get completely damaged and at times, require surgical removal.
Sometimes, the infection―when it appears as a swelling on the gums―may spread into the surrounding soft tissue. This may lead to cellulitis, where there is swelling and accumulation of pus in the facial spaces extending into the neck. Even though the occurrence is rare, an infection in the tooth can also lead to sinusitis, i.e., inflammation of the sinus cavities. As the upper teeth, particularly the roots of the upper molars, are present very close to the lining of the maxillary sinus cavity, an infection extending beyond the tip of the root can invade the sinus cavity and cause sinusitis.
Severe Abscessed Tooth Complications and Dangers
Besides affecting structures present in the immediate vicinity of the teeth and jaws, an abscess can also have systemic implications. First of all, the presence of pus in the body puts it at a risk of pathogens. So, the body may try and fight off this infection, which may lead to fever. If the pathogens manage to reach the bloodstream, then it may even lead to blood infection; the chances of which are even more when the person's immunity is compromised.
A very serious and life-threatening complication also exists in the form of Ludwig's angina, wherein there is swelling of the neck spaces to an extent that the airway gets compressed. This may lead to severe breathing problems and even, if not treated on an emergency basis, complete obstruction of the airway, leading to death.
All these complications may or may not happen at the same time. It is virtually impossible to rule out the possibility of these complications and therefore, it is wise to consult a dentist the moment any symptom starts surfacing, so as to ensure that the treatment procedure is initiated at the earliest.