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Complications From an Infected Tooth

author image Lisabetta DiVita
Lisabetta Divita is a physician whose love for writing flourished while she was exposed to all facets of the medical field during her training. Her writings are currently featured in prominent medical magazines and various online publications. She holds a doctorate in medicine, a master's in biomedicine, and a Bachelor of Science in biology from Boston College.
Complications From an Infected Tooth
An infected tooth can lead to all sorts of complications. Photo Credit tooth image by saied shahinkiya from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

An infected tooth, also known as a tooth abscess, refers to an accumulation of pus that infiltrates the center of the tooth, says MedlinePlus. It says that symptoms of an infected tooth include a toothache that is gnawing or throbbing in nature, a bitter taste in the mouth, swollen neck glands and pain when eating. Other symptoms of this medical problem include bad breath and jaw swelling. Left untreated, complications from an infected tooth can result.


The bacteria in an infected tooth can actually spread to the blood and lead to a medical condition called sepsis. The Mayo Clinic says that sepsis is a blood infection that typically strikes the very young or old, people with a weakened immune systems and sick people in the hospital.

Sepsis signs include a fever greater than 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit, a heart rate greater than 90 beats per minute and a respiratory rate greater than 20 breaths per minute. Also, there must exist a specific site of infection (like an infected tooth). As the condition progresses, trouble breathing, mottling of the skin, changes in mental status and decreased urine output leads to sepsis. Septic shock occurs when the blood pressure becomes extremely low.

Treating sepsis involves taking antibiotics to destroy the bacteria and taking vasopressors to raise the blood pressure. Intravenous (through the vein) fluids and oxygen therapy can also be given. Sometimes, surgery may be necessary to drain any collections of pus.

Facial Cellulitis

Sometimes, the bacteria from an infected tooth can infiltrate the soft tissues in the face and lead to facial cellulitis. According to MedlinePlus, cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection.

Symptoms of this problem include pain or tenderness on the face, skin redness, a rash, sores or warmth over the affected skin. Facial cellulitis can also lead to a fever, shaking, chills, vomiting and nausea.

The staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria are the typical bacterial causes for cellulitis. Antibiotic medications and pain relievers can be taken to treat facial cellulitis.

Ludwig's Angina

MedlinePlus says that Ludwig's angina refers to a bacterial infection that infiltrates the floor of the mouth.

Specific symptoms of this condition include trouble breathing, neck pain, a fever, weakness and confusion. Other symptoms of Ludwig's angina include fatigue, redness of the neck, an earache and drooling. This type of complication typically results from a mouth injury or an infected tooth.

Ludwig's angina is typically treated with antibiotic medications to eliminate the bacteria. Sometimes, a breathing tube is placed if breathing becomes compromised due to tissue swelling. Surgery may also be necessary to drain any fluids that cause the tissue swelling.

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