Dental abscesses, if left untreated, can be very serious. In the days prior to modern surgery and antibiotics, a common cause of death was a dental abscess. An untreated abscess on the upper front tooth would often lead to a brain abscess that would prove fatal. Such a brain infection is known as cavernous sinus thrombosis.
Sinuses are located behind the bones of the upper face. They are air-filled spaces at the rear of the forehead, nose and cheeks and between the eyes. Sinusitis is when fluid blocks the sinuses, and entrapped bacteria infect the lining, inflaming the sinuses.
About 14 percent of Americans are affected by acute sinusitis which is comparatively common. Dental infections are one of the triggers that result in inflammation and swelling of the sinuses.
Of the 7 sinuses, the maxillary sinus, because of its prominent exposure to the atmosphere, is the most frequently infected. Such infection can result in pain in the upper teeth.
Conversely, 10 percent of sinusitis and the attendant pain, originates from a dental source. A dental abscess occurs as a result of decayed dental pulp. The dental pulp having died in the root canal builds up pressure and seeks release. It finds an outlet through an abscess that forms on the gum near the root of the infected tooth. The condition gives rise to acute pain and the infection can radiate to the sinuses. This condition is a fairly advanced stage of pulp decay and the only recourse might be a root canal procedure.
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