3 Serious Consequences Of A Dental Abscess

If you have a severe infection, or abscess, in one or more of your teeth, you may be at a heightened risk for serious complications. While mild to moderate dental infections often resolve without any adverse events, an extensive abscessed tooth can make you very sick. Here are three serious consequences of a dental abscess and what you can do about them.

Systemic Inflammation

A dental abscess not only produces local symptoms such as pain, a bad taste in the mouth, and gum inflammation, it can also trigger systemic inflammation. Tooth infections can promote the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines, and when cytokines are overabundant in the bloodstream, you may experience body-wide pain, joint stiffness, and general malaise.

At the first sign of a tooth abscess, make an appointment with your dentist, who will determine what your treatment plan should be. Once your abscess has been treated with either antibiotics, root canal, or tooth extraction, your infection will resolve, cytokine expression will decrease, and systemic inflammation will subside. 

Cardiac Arrhythmia 

A dental abscess can also lead to serious problems with your cardiovascular system, including cardiac arrhythmia. A cardiac arrhythmia refers to an abnormal rhythm of your heart which means that your heart beats erratically. A cardiac arrhythmia may raise your risk for a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot.

Abnormal heart function related to a dental abscess can be caused by the purulent bacteria that is found in pus, which is commonly associated with dental abscesses. In addition to bacterial invasion of your cardiovascular system, an abscess can cause inflammation in the arteries around your heart.

If you notice chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or an abnormal heartbeat, seek emergency medical care. Resolution of your dental abscess may resolve your cardiac problems, however, in certain cases, cardiovascular damage may be longstanding. 

Facial Nerve Damage

If your dental abscess is left untreated, damage to one of your cranial nerves may develop. The cranial nerve that is most likely to sustain damage from a dental abscess is your facial nerve. If you develop facial nerve problems from your tooth infection, you may experience pain, burning sensations, tingling, or numbness on the side of your face where your infection is. Once your dentist has treated your abscess, facial nerve inflammation will subside, however, it may take weeks to months before your symptoms completely subside.

If you develop a dental abscess, work with a dentist in your area to develop a treatment plan that will treat the infection while lowering your risk for complications such as body-wide inflammation, nerve damage, and heart problems.