Understanding Some Complications If An Oral Abscess Is Not Treated

If you have a relatively large lump or protrusion on your gum tissues, then you likely have something called an abscess. Abscesses are dangerous tissue infections that need to be treated as soon as possible, but some individuals will wait to see if the issue passes. However, abscesses will not go away on their own due to the way that the infection develops and the bacteria become trapped in the abscess itself. If you do choose to ignore the issue, then there are several complications that can arise. Keep reading to learn about a few.

Ludwig Angina

Dental infections, like the ones that develop when you have an abscess, are likely to spread if they are not treated properly. In most cases, the infection will spread to different regions of the mouth. A rare type of infection occurs when the region underneath the tongue becomes inflamed and infected. This is called Ludwig Angina and severe complications can develop. The infection in this region of the mouth can cause inflammation around the airway. Breathing troubles, swelling around the neck, and difficulties swallowing are all common signs of the disorder. Sometimes the tongue will swell as well.

If this issue develops and breathing is an issue, you may need a breathing tube for a short period of time. A life-saving surgical procedure called a tracheostomy may be required as well where an opening is created in the windpipe. Antibiotics will be needed and you will likely need dental treatment on top of everything else to treat the abscess that caused the serious infection in the first place.


One of the most common complications that occurs due to an untreated oral infection is endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the heart where the inner lining of the organ becomes infected and inflamed. The valves within the heart can become infected as well. This type of infection develops as bacteria in the mouth spread to the blood vessels. As the blood travels to the heart, so does the bacteria. The microorganisms then attach themselves to the heart tissues, multiply, and infect the heart. 

Antibiotics can be used to treat endocarditis, but an aggressive treatment is often required and provided intravenously. You will typically need to be hospitalized during the time of treatment. As treatment progresses, you will need continual IV antibiotic treatments, but they can be provided on an out-patient basis. You may be looking at several months of recovery and treatment though if you develop endocarditis.

If you think that you may have an oral infection like an abscess, then it is wise to seek treatment from an emergency dental professional, such as at Cross Creek Family Dental, as soon as possible. This way, the infection can be treated in time so that complications do not develop.