Abscess Can Be A Fatal Infection

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Just over a week ago, a 12-year-old Prince George's County boy died as a result of complications from a tooth abscess -- a kind of infection that is particularly common among people who do not have access to routine dental care. Despite undergoing two operations and spending six weeks in a hospital, Deamonte Driver died after bacteria from the infection spread from his jaw to his brain.

The National Library of Medicine offers these tips on how to prevent, recognize and treat a dental abscess:

What is a dental abscess ?

A dental abscess or tooth infection is a collection of infected material (pus) resulting from bacterial infection of the center (pulp) of a tooth.

What causes an abscess ?

A tooth abscess is a complication of tooth decay. It may also result from trauma to the tooth, such as when a tooth is broken or chipped. Openings in the tooth enamel allow bacteria to infect the pulp. Infection may spread out from the root of the tooth and to the bones supporting the tooth.

Infection results in a collection of pus (dead tissue, live and dead bacteria, white blood cells) and swelling of the tissues within the tooth. This causes a painful toothache. If the root of the tooth dies, the toothache may stop, but the infection remains active and continues to spread and destroy tissue.

What are the symptoms ?


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