If you develop a dental abscess, consider it an emergency situation. A dental abscess is a severe tooth infection, and if not treated quickly, it can lead to severe health consequences. Here are some reasons your dental abscess is an emergency and what you can do about them:

Purulent Drainage 

A dental abscess usually drains a purulent discharge. This means that the discharge associated with an abscess contains bacteria-laden pus, raising your risk for a life-threatening infection known as sepsis. Symptoms of this systemic blood infection include a high fever, pain all over the body, headache, nausea and vomiting, severe weakness, and a fast heart rate. 

If you develop sepsis, you will need to be hospitalized and undergo intravenous antibiotic therapy. To reduce your risk for sepsis, visit the dental clinic if you develop dental abscess symptoms such as toothache, fever, a bad taste in your mouth when chewing or biting down, and gum inflammation around the affected tooth. The dental clinic staff will take an x-ray of your tooth and prescribe oral antibiotics. If the infection is extreme, the dentist may recommend extraction.   

Cardiac Abnormalities

An untreated dental abscess may also heighten your risk for cardiac muscle damage or valvular problems. If you have a dental infection and develop chest pain, a rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, or pain radiating down your left arm, seek emergency medical attention. If the cardiologist determines that your heart problems are the result of a dental infection, he or she may recommend that you take prophylactic antibiotics before any dental procedure to lower your risk for a systemic bacterial infection.

This will help ensure that your infection does not spread to your heart or other vital organs. Cardiac abnormalities related to dental infections are typically treated with antibiotics, beta blockers, and anticoagulants, which are medications used to prevent heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots.

While these medications will keep your cardiac problems under control, permanent damage to the heart muscle as a result of the infection is a possibility. If, however, you take all your prescribed medication and see your cardiologist and dentist on a regular basis, your risk for cardiac complications is low. 

If you develop a dental abscess, see your dentist right away. The sooner a severely infected tooth is recognized and treated, the less like you will be to develop a systemic blood infection, damage to your cardiac muscle, heart valve problems, or an irregular heartbeat. Contact your dental clinic for more information.