Untreated Tooth Abscesses Cause Health Problems Beyond Your Mouth

Tooth abscesses are a sign of tooth infection characterized by sharp oral pain and a small pimple-like growth on gum tissue. The earliest symptoms of a tooth abscess include: sensitivity to hot and cold foods, pain in the teeth or gums, swollen lymph nodes, and throbbing toothaches that may contribute to headaches. An untreated tooth abscess can cause more than just oral health problems; they can impact the rest of the body as well!

Today, let’s take a look at the different complications associated with these types of infections:

Oral Complications:

A tooth abscess can cause additional oral health complications when left untreated. These complications include:

Spread of Infection:

Any infection can spread if it isn’t treated. Abscesses are usually caused by bacterial infections in the tooth or gum. If nothing is done to correct the infection, it can spread to nearby teeth, the jaw, neck, and (in rare cases) the brain.

Sinus Irritation:

Did you know that your upper jaw sits on the maxillary sinuses? Because of the close quarters between your teeth and sinuses, a tooth infection can trigger sinus irritation.

Ludwig’s Angina:

Infections and inflammation often go hand in hand. Ludwig’s Angina occurs when a skin infection spreads into the throat, causing extreme swelling in the air passage. Common symptoms associated with this condition include trouble speaking, breathing, weakness, and swelling in the neck.


When a viral or bacterial infection spreads to other areas of the body, it’s possible for meningitis to form. An inflammation of the membranes near the spinal cord and brain, meningitis can be triggered by not getting medical care for a tooth abscess before the infection spreads.

Jaw Infections:

Just as a tooth infection can spread from the tooth to soft tissue in the mouth and throat, it’s also possible for the infectious bacteria to travel into the jawbone itself. If this happens, swelling and tenderness will be apparent.

Other Complications:

Some health professionals believe that an untreated tooth abscess can lead to brain abscesses, heart damage, comas, and even death. Although the scientific evidence for these conditions are limited, it has become obvious that the bacteria from an untreated tooth abscess travels through the bloodstream and causes inflammation in the heart and other internal organs.

How to Avoid the Complications of an Untreated Abscess

The easiest way to avoid the complications of an untreated tooth abscess is by preventing an infection from happening all together. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to keep mouth infections at bay, particularly those who are struggling with periodontal disease or other heath complications. If you’ve developed a tooth abscess, do not wait for it to improve on its own – tooth abscesses need medical intervention to heal. If you need help with an existing abscess or tooth infection, contact one of our dentists in Louisa, VA at (540) 967-5800.