The Deadly Truth: How a Neglected Tooth Infection Can Take Your Life

Learn the dangers of tooth infections and how they can potentially be fatal. Discover the symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods in this detailed guide.

Joel Wissen

6/21/202310 min read

Neglected Tooth Infections Can Kill You

Tooth infections can be dangerous. Discover the symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods in this detailed guide to ensure that these infections will not become potentially fatal.

What Is a Tooth Infection?

A tooth infection is a dental condition that occurs when bacteria invade the pulp of a tooth, which is the soft inner part of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. Tooth infections are typically caused by untreated cavities or cracks in teeth, which allow bacteria to enter and multiply.

In some cases, trauma to the teeth or gum disease can also lead to a tooth infection. When left untreated, a tooth infection can spread beyond the tooth and into surrounding tissues and organs.

This can cause serious health complications, including sepsis (a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to an infection), brain abscesses (pockets of pus in the brain), and heart infections (also known as endocarditis). Symptoms of a tooth infection include severe pain in the affected tooth or gums, swelling around the affected area, fever, difficulty swallowing or breathing, bad breath, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek dental treatment as soon as possible. To diagnose a tooth infection, your dentist will typically perform an oral exam and take X-rays.

In some cases, they may also take a sample of pus from inside your mouth for testing in a laboratory. Treatment for a tooth infection typically involves draining any pus that has accumulated inside your mouth and prescribing antibiotics to eliminate bacterial growth.

In severe cases where an abscess has formed near your jawbone or other vital structures like eyes or ears are involved surgical intervention may be required even before antibiotics are prescribed.

Overall prevention is key when it comes to avoiding these serious health complications caused by untreated dental infections, so good oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing with fluoride-containing products at least twice daily with flossing will help prevent cavities from forming in your teeth which could ultimately lead up to dental infections.

Can Tooth Infections Be Fatal?

Tooth infections, also known as dental abscesses, occur when bacteria infect the soft tissue or bone surrounding a tooth. While most tooth infections are treatable with antibiotics and dental care, they can be fatal if left untreated or undiagnosed.

In fact, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), some estimates suggest that up to 1 in 200,000 people die from complications stemming from dental abscesses each year. One of the ways that tooth infections can become fatal is through the spread of infection beyond the mouth and into other parts of the body.

This can occur when bacteria from the abscess enters the bloodstream and travels to other organs or tissues. For example, tooth infection spreading to lungs can cause pneumonia, while tooth infection spreading to brain can cause meningitis or sepsis.

Another way that dental abscesses can be fatal is through complications related to swelling and inflammation in the affected area. If left untreated for too long, an abscess can grow and begin to push against surrounding tissues and structures like bones or blood vessels.

This pressure can lead to tissue death (necrosis) in severe cases. In addition to these direct health risks associated with untreated tooth infections, there are also socioeconomic factors that contribute to their potential lethality.

People who lack access to regular dental care may not receive timely treatment for their abscesses or may not have adequate resources for follow-up care after treatment. As a result, they may be at higher risk for developing complications that could lead to death.

Overall, while tooth infections are typically not life-threatening if treated promptly and effectively by a dentist or medical professional, they have a high potential for lethality if left unchecked. Therefore, it is important for individuals experiencing symptoms such as persistent pain or swelling in their mouth- even those without insurance- seek medical attention immediately before any adverse outcomes occur due to untreated oral diseases such as gum disease or tooth infection.

Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to Body

When left untreated, a tooth infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to serious health problems. In fact, it's not uncommon for the bacteria from a tooth infection to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other organs. If you have a tooth infection, it's important to know the signs that it may be spreading to your body.

One of the first symptoms of a tooth infection spreading is fever. When your body is fighting an infection, your temperature may rise because of inflammation.

Additionally, you may experience chills and sweating as your body tries to regulate its temperature. Another common symptom of a spreading tooth infection is swollen lymph nodes.

These small structures are part of your immune system and are located throughout your body. When they detect an infection, they work hard to fight off the invader by producing white blood cells. As a result, they can become enlarged and tender. In some cases, a tooth infection can spread to the face or neck.

This can cause redness and swelling in these areas as well as pain when moving your head or neck. The skin may also be warm or tender to the touch.

If you notice that you're feeling generally unwell or fatigued for no apparent reason while dealing with tooth pain or infection symptoms - this could be another sign that bacteria from the infected area has entered your bloodstream causing further issues in beyond just oral health concerns. It’s important if any of these occur alongside feeling unwell or having raised temperature that medical attention should be sought out immediately before further complications arise due to the spread caused by untreated tooth infections.

Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to Heart

When a tooth infection spreads to the heart, it can lead to serious and even life-threatening conditions. The infection can spread through the bloodstream and affect the heart's valves or tissues, leading to endocarditis.

Symptoms of a tooth infection spreading to the heart can vary depending on the severity of the condition. One of the most common symptoms is fever.

A persistent fever that does not subside with medication could be an indication that a tooth infection has spread to your heart. Other symptoms may include night sweats, fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

If left untreated, this condition can cause damage to your heart valves and other vital organs. Another symptom that may indicate a tooth infection has spread to your heart is an irregular heartbeat or palpitations.

You may feel like your heart is racing or fluttering in your chest. This sensation can be accompanied by dizziness or lightheadedness.

If you experience any of these symptoms after having a tooth infection for an extended period, you should see a doctor immediately as any delay could increase the risk of complications. Your dentist may refer you to an infectious disease specialist who will diagnose and treat any underlying issues related to your tooth infection.

While rare, it is possible for a tooth infection to spread throughout the body and cause severe health problems such as endocarditis if left untreated. Therefore, it's important always to maintain good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice daily, flossing regularly and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.

Tooth Infection Spread to Brain Symptoms

When a tooth infection is not treated promptly, it can spread to other parts of the body, including the brain. This is not a common occurrence, but when it does happen, it can lead to serious complications.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, seek medical attention immediately.

The first symptom of a tooth infection spreading to the brain is usually a headache. This headache may be accompanied by fever and chills and will typically get worse over time. The pain may be throbbing or sharp and may be localized or spread throughout the head.

As the infection progresses, you may also experience nausea and vomiting. Another symptom of a tooth infection spreading to the brain is confusion or disorientation. You may have trouble remembering things or understanding what is happening around you. You may also have difficulty speaking clearly or forming coherent thoughts.

In some cases, a tooth infection that spreads to the brain can lead to seizures. These seizures may be mild at first but can become more severe over time. Seizures can cause convulsions and loss of consciousness in some cases.

If a tooth infection spreads to the brain, it can cause meningitis. Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.

While rare, a tooth infection that spreads to the brain can be life-threatening if left untreated. If you experience any symptoms that suggest this has occurred, contact your dentist immediately for evaluation and treatment options before more serious complications arise such as meningitis which could ultimately result in death if left untreated for too long

Can Tooth Infections Be Treated?

When left untreated, a dental infection can cause serious health issues. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of a tooth infection.

The treatment options for a tooth infection depend on the severity of the condition. One of the most common treatments for a tooth infection is antibiotics.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections and can be prescribed in either pill or liquid form. In some cases, your dentist may also recommend an antiseptic mouthwash to help reduce bacteria in your mouth.

In more severe cases where antibiotics are not enough, a root canal may be necessary. During this procedure, the infected pulp inside the tooth is removed and replaced with a filling material. This effectively removes the source of the infection and prevents it from spreading further.

In rare cases where a root canal cannot be performed or has failed, extraction may be necessary. This involves removing the entire infected tooth to prevent further spread of bacteria and alleviate discomfort. It's important to note that self-treatment should be avoided at all costs when dealing with a tooth infection.

Over-the-counter pain relievers and other remedies may offer temporary relief but will not address the root cause of the infection. Seeking professional dental care is essential for effective treatment of any type of dental issue, including an abscessed or infected tooth.

Ultimately, prompt treatment is key when dealing with a tooth infection. Neglecting symptoms or delaying treatment can lead to serious health complications that could potentially become life-threatening if left untreated for too long.

How To Prevent Tooth Infections

Preventing tooth infections is essential for maintaining good oral health. The first step to preventing tooth infections is to practice proper dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day can help prevent the buildup of plaque that can lead to tooth decay and infections.

It’s also important to visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. Your dentist will be able to detect any signs of dental problems early on and recommend appropriate treatments, such as fillings or root canals, before they become more severe.

Additionally, they may also suggest using mouthwash or other oral care products that can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Another way to prevent tooth infections is by eating a healthy diet that’s low in sugar and high in nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

This type of diet promotes healthy teeth and gums by providing necessary nutrients for strength and repairing tissues.

Avoiding certain habits like smoking or using tobacco products can also reduce your risk of getting a tooth infection. Tobacco use weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off harmful bacteria that can cause an infection.

In addition to practicing good dental hygiene habits at home, there are other steps you can take to prevent tooth infections from developing or spreading.

For example, if you play contact sports or participate in activities where there’s a risk of injury (like biking), make sure you wear protective gear like a mouthguard or helmet when necessary. If you have any concerns about preventing a tooth infection or maintaining good oral health in general, talk to your dentist today about what steps may be right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can a tooth infection cause death?

In rare cases, tooth infections can result in death if they are not properly treated. If the infection spreads to other parts of the body, such as the heart or brain, it can become life-threatening. This is why it is important to seek dental treatment as soon as possible if you suspect you have a tooth infection.

2. How long does it take for a tooth infection to spread?

The length of time it takes for a tooth infection to spread varies depending on the person and the severity of the infection. In some cases, the infection can spread quickly within hours or days, while in others it may take weeks or even months for the infection to spread.

3. Can a tooth infection go away on its own?

No, a tooth infection will not go away on its own and requires medical treatment.

Ignoring an infected tooth can make matters worse and lead to serious health complications.

4. What is the best way to prevent a tooth infection?

The best way to prevent a tooth infection is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once per day.

Additionally, avoid consuming sugary foods and drinks and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. While rare cases exist where untreated infections result in fatality; early detection via regular check-ups with dentists and practicing good oral hygiene through timely brushing of teeth at least twice daily with fluoride-based paste remains fundamental in preventing such events from happening.


Tooth infections are not something to take lightly, as they can pose a serious risk to your overall health. If left untreated, a tooth infection can spread to the surrounding tissue and even enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to life-threatening complications. However, with prompt dental care and good oral hygiene practices, tooth infections can usually be treated and prevented.

To prevent tooth infections from occurring in the first place, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits such as brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly. Additionally, avoiding sugary and acidic foods can help prevent decay that could lead to infection.

Regular dental check-ups are also important for catching any signs of decay or infection early on. If you do develop a tooth infection, seeking prompt dental care is crucial for preventing further damage or complications.

Your dentist may recommend antibiotics or a root canal procedure to treat the infection and save the affected tooth. While tooth infections can be serious if left untreated, it is important not to panic.

With proper treatment and prevention methods in place, most people will never experience a life-threatening complication from a tooth infection. Taking good care of your teeth through regular brushing and flossing along with regular dental check-ups is crucial for preventing serious health issues related to tooth infections.

If you do experience symptoms of an infected tooth such as pain or swelling around the affected area or fever, then seek immediate medical attention. Remember that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to your oral health!