When a tooth abscess isn't treated for weeks or months, it can spread to other areas such as the jaw, neck, and brain. This can cause serious symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, and an inability to open your mouth. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the neck, head, and other regions of the body. In some cases, bacteria can travel to the heart and settle on the lining of the heart, a heart valve, or a blood vessel; this can cause a condition known as bacterial endocarditis.
Shortness of breath in some people with a dental abscess may be a sign of Ludwig's angina, a condition in which the infection restricts the functioning of the respiratory tract. Most people don't know that an infection in the mouth can spread easily. In fact, in the worst case scenario, such an infection can migrate to the brain or other parts of the body. Once this occurs, the infection is extremely dangerous and may even be untreatable.
Even something as simple as a fractured tooth can put you at risk if the infection spreads to the dental pulp and beyond. Often, people don't know that they have a chip or a crack in their tooth that can allow bacteria to enter. By the time the chip or crack is identified, the damage has been done. A tooth abscess, also known as a dental abscess or oral abscess, is a painful infection that can occur in a tooth, jaw, or gums that surround a tooth.
Most people are treated for a dental abscess, as the pain caused by an abscess can be extremely severe, even to the point of interfering with daily life.