Potential Long-Term Infections Caused By A Tooth Abscess

by Terrence Mills

When dental trauma or decay creates a hole in a tooth, the interior is then exposed to potentially harmful oral bacteria. The bacteria can cause an infection that leaks through the tooth root into the surrounding gum tissue, causing fluid-filled swelling. This infected root and gum is called a tooth abscess. Aside from discomfort, a tooth abscess also has the potential to spread to form other types of infections.

Here are a few infections that can result from an untreated tooth abscess. Visit your dentist if you suspect an abscess to receive antibiotic and cleaning treatments.


Actinomycosis is a long-term infection that tends to present with draining dermatological sores, fever, and a hard lump on the face. The infection is caused by a bacteria found in the nose and throat that finds its way into the face and bloodstream through trauma to the face such as a dental abscess. Actinomycosis can move on to affect the chest and breathing.

Treatment for actinomycosis involves antibiotics administered for as long as a year. Any fluid-filled sores will also need to be drained to keep the infection from spreading any further throughout the body.

Ludwig's Angina

Ludwig's angina is a skin infection that can be caused by the abscess bacteria infecting the floor of the mouth under the tongue. This soft tissue infection can cause severe swelling that can block the airway and cause death.

Treatment of severe Ludwig's angina is vital and involves several steps. A tracheotomy might be required if the throat is blocked by the swelling. Antibiotics are used to clear up the infection so that the swelling will start to go down. Draining might also occur if the swelling is fluid-filled or not receding fast enough with the antibiotics alone.


Osteomyelitis is an infection of the jawbone caused by the spread of the infection from the tooth root and gums into the underlying bone. Symptoms include pain, facial and joint swelling, and fever.

Untreated osteomyelitis can cause the bone to erode, which would weaken the support structure for the surrounding teeth. Those teeth can become loose or fall out and require dental replacement in the future.

Your dentist can treat osteomyelitis with a course of intravenous antibiotics that need to be administered over a period of time that can last up to six weeks. The process of repairing your jawbone will take longer and will likely involve at least a bone graft using healthy bone from the roof of the mouth. Click here for more information.