An infected tooth, also known as a tooth abscess, refers to an accumulation of pus that infiltrates the center of the tooth, says MedlinePlus 13. 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 2.
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.
- The bacteria in an infected tooth can actually spread to the blood and lead to a medical condition called sepsis.
- Treating sepsis involves taking antibiotics to destroy the bacteria and taking vasopressors to raise the blood pressure.
Abscessed Tooth and Jaw Pain
Sometimes, the bacteria from an infected tooth can infiltrate the soft tissues in the face and lead to facial cellulitis 3. According to MedlinePlus, cellulitis is a common bacterial skin infection 13.
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 3.
- Sometimes, the bacteria from an infected tooth can infiltrate the soft tissues in the face and lead to facial cellulitis 3.
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.
- MedlinePlus says that Ludwig's angina refers to a bacterial infection that infiltrates the floor of the mouth 1.
- Sometimes, a breathing tube is placed if breathing becomes compromised due to tissue swelling.
Abscessed Tooth and Jaw Pain
Antibiotics for an Infected Tooth
Tooth Pain After Eating
Complications of Very Large Tonsils
Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Dangerous Sinus Infection
How to Stop a Bleeding Tongue
What Causes Pain in the Lymph Nodes & Jaw?
What Happens If Rotten Teeth Are Left Unattended?
- MedlinePlus: Tooth Abscess
- Mayo Clinic: Sepsis
- MedlinePlus: Cellulitis
- Raff AB, Kroshinsky D. Cellulitis: A review. JAMA. 2016;316(3):325-37. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8825
- Brown BD, Hood Watson KL. Cellulitis. [Updated 2019 Nov 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
- Gunderson CG, Martinello RA. A systematic review of bacteremias in cellulitis and erysipelas. J Infect. 2012;64(2):148055. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2011.11.004.
- Elahi M, Sanchez PJ, Alqudah E, Antonara S. Invasive Haemophilus influenzae infections in children: A 10-year study. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2018;5(Suppl 1):S687. doi:10.1093/ofid/ofy210.1967
- Sullivan T, de Barra E. Diagnosis and management of cellulitis. Clin Med (Lond). 2018;18(2):160–163. doi:10.7861/clinmedicine.18-2-160
- American Academy of Dermatology. Cellulitis. 2018.
- Gunderson CG, Martinello RA. A systematic review of bacteremias in cellulitis and erysipelas. J Infect. 2012 Feb;64(2):148055. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2011.11.004.
- Habif, T. Bacterial Infections. Clinical Dermatology, 4th Edition. New York: Mosby, 2004: 236-262.
- Halpern, A., and Heymann. W. Bacterial Diseases. Dermatology. 2nd Edition. New York: Mosby, 2008: 1075-1084.
- Morris JG. Vibrio vulnificus infections. Calderwood SB, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate Inc.
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.