Think You Have An Abscessed Tooth? Don't Wait For Treatment! Tooth Abscesses Can Be Life-Threatening!

Toothaches can be debilitating, but sometimes, they can be life-threatening. In 2007, a 12-year-old boy died from a toothache that, left untreated for too long, had caused bacteria to spread to his brain. If the boy had received timely treated for his toothache, he would have gotten a routine tooth extraction that may have saved his life.

If you have a toothache, don't wait for treatment. Take the matter seriously and seek emergency dental care. Here's what you need to know about the causes of toothaches that can be deadly and where you can find treatment for dental emergencies. 

An Abscessed Tooth 

The symptoms of an abscessed tooth include severe toothache, fever, and sensitivity to extreme temperatures and pressure. There may be swelling in the gums, face, and lymph nodes in the neck and jaw. A tooth abscess develops when there is a bacterial infection in the oral cavity, and this results in a pocket of pus in the gums.

Studies have shown that the average person has 20-100 billion bacteria in their mouth. Bacteria can get into chips and cracks in teeth where there is erosion and decay. Bacteria can get in between the gums and teeth and affect the bone. Because of these different areas of concern, there are two types of tooth abscesses: periapical and periodontal. Periapical abscesses form at the tooth root's tip. Periodontal abscesses form in the bone next to the affected tooth. 

Untreated Tooth Abscesses 

Untreated tooth abscesses can cause several things to occur, depending on the type of abscess and the severity of the condition. 

  1. A fistula is similar to a pimple and can rupture, which would leave a bad taste in your mouth. A ruptured fistula would likely relieve some of the pain, as it releases the pus that causes swelling. However, the infection remains and needs to be treated with antibiotics. These bacterial infections do not go away on their own, even after a fistula has ruptured. 
  2. A cyst is a bubble filled with fluid in the jaw bone. Left untreated, a cyst can continue to grow and damage the bone structure by placing pressure on it, which could weaken the bone. Cysts can leak and cause bacteria to flood into the bloodstream, which can result in sepsis. Cysts cannot be seen with the naked eye like fistulas can. An MRI or a dental x-ray will be necessary to identify a cyst. 
  3. Sepsis can occur when bacteria from an abscess enters into the bloodstream. This condition is called bacteremia. When the body's immune system is unable to respond to destroy the bacteria, the bacteria moves throughout the body and causes damage to vital organs, such as the lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain. Sepsis can cause multiple organ failure, which can lead to death. 

Due to the severity of the situation and the associated risks, prompt dental care is extremely important. 


If you believe you have a dental abscess, you should find a dentist who offers emergency dental services immediately. After an examination, you can expect to get treated for your tooth abscess by draining the abscess and treating the cause via a root canal or tooth extraction. You will need to undergo antibiotic therapy, and, if the condition is severe enough, you may require hospitalization. 

If you cannot locate an emergency dentist that is open 24/7 every day of the year, you may be able to find some temporary relief at your nearest hospital emergency room until you will be able to be seen by an emergency dentist. A hospital ER can give you a prescription for antibiotics and pain relief medication, along with instructions to see an emergency dental service as soon as possible.