How A Dental Abscess Can Endanger Your Health

A dental abscess, or severely infected tooth, can cause pain, inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the affected tooth, and pulsating sensations near the tooth. Although these are some of the most common signs of a dental abscess, the following signs may be indicative an emergency situation. Here are three symptoms of an abscessed tooth that may indicate the need for emergency dental services:

Elevated Temperature

If your toothache is accompanied by a fever, it means that your local dental infection has become a systemic infection. You will need to make an appointment with an emergency dentist, who will treat the dental infection and may prescribe a course of oral antibiotics.

The antibiotics will not only treat the dental abscess, but will also eliminate the systemic infection, reducing your fever in the process. It is important to note that even though you may feel better after taking only a few antibiotic pills, you should not stop taking them. It is important that you complete the entire course of prescribed antibiotics to ensure that the infection is completely eliminated and that it does not return.


Tachycardia, or a fast heartbeat, can mean that your abscess infection has spread to your heart valves. This is an emergency situation, and if not recognized and treated as soon as possible, permanent valvular damage may occur.

At the first sign of a toothache, see your dentist. When abscessed teeth are discovered and treated promptly, you are less likely to develop rare cardiovascular complications, such as those associated with the valves, chambers, or lining of your heart. While the infection known as rheumatic fever, thought to be caused by a strain of strep, is more likely to cause valvular problems, a severe dental abscess can cause them, too.

Bad Taste When Biting Down

If you get a bad taste in your mouth when you bite down or chew, you may have a purulent dental infection. This means that the infected tooth is surrounded by pus, which can drain down the throat. When this happens, you may be at a heightened risk for developing a peritonsillar abscess, or a serious infection of the soft tissue that surrounds your tonsil. In severe cases, a peritonsillar abscess can cause severe inflammation of the tonsil, leading to partial or total airway obstruction.

If this happens, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room, where the physician will attempt to aspirate the pus from the tonsil and administer antibiotics. At the first sign of a bad taste in your mouth, see your dentist right away, as this will reduce your risk for developing a peritonsillar abscess.

If you develop a toothache, tachycardia, or a bad taste in your mouth accompanied by a purulent drainage, make an appointment with an emergency dentist. By doing so, you will reduce your risk for developing heart valve problems, systemic infection, and a peritonsillar abscess.