Yes, there are several risks associated with a dental abscess if it’s not treated promptly and properly.
- Spread of infection: One major risk is the spread of the infection to nearby teeth, your jaw, or other areas of your body. In rare cases, the infection can even travel to your heart, leading to endocarditis, or to your brain, causing bacterial meningitis.
- Tooth loss and jaw bone damage: An untreated abscess can lead to tooth loss and damage to the jaw bone.
- Sinus infection: Since the roots of several upper teeth extend into the sinus area, an abscess in one of these teeth can lead to a painful sinus infection.
- Life-threatening complications: In the pre-antibiotic era, dental infections were a common cause of death, with fatality rates of 10–40%. Even today, while less common due to antibiotics, severe complications can still occur if an abscess isn’t properly treated.
- Surgical complications: If surgical intervention is required, there are risks associated with the procedure itself such as breaking surgical tools off inside the tooth root canal, a cracked tooth, or incomplete evacuation of bacteria.
Given these risks, it’s crucial to seek dental care as soon as possible if you suspect you have a dental abscess. Regular dental check-ups can also help prevent dental abscesses and catch them early when they do occur.