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Dangers of a tooth abscess Part 3: Mediastinitis

Dangers of a tooth abscess Part 3: Mediastinitis

oral surgery ChicagoPatients with tooth abscesses benefit significantly from having an oral surgeon drain those abscesses or extract the infected tooth. In addition to the symptoms that are directly caused by the abscess, surgical intervention can reduce the risk that the inflammation will spread to other areas of the body.

Mediastinitis is yet another potential negative outcome that can be associated with dental abscesses, although it is rare.

The area between the lungs, which contains the heart, windpipe, esophagus and other related structures, is known as the mediastinum, and inflammation in that area is called mediastinitus.

That inflammation is typically caused by some sort of infection, and it is most often found in patients who recently had surgery in the chest cavity or an upper endoscopy. Nonetheless, bacteria that originate in a dental abscess can also be at fault in mediastinitis.  It is a serious and life-threatening condition. A delay in diagnosis or treatment can cause death.

If you have this condition, you may notice chest pain or shortness of breath. You may also experience chills and/or fever.

For patients with a dental abscess, an outpatient visit to our Chicago oral surgery practice can cut the chances that a patient will come down with mediastinitis or any other systemic infection.

As with Ludwig’s angina, mediastinitis may respond to aggressive I.V. antibiotics. In some cases, however, surgical intervention is needed to eliminate the source of the infection and debride tissue.

Because the organs and glands contained in the mediastinum are essential to circulation and respiration, mediastinitis can have serious consequences. The patient’s airway may be restricted due to swelling, affecting the patient’s ability to breathe.

Of course, if left untreated, this condition could spread and lead to a blood infection and sepsis, as well.

Seek treatment for your tooth abscess as soon as you realize that it is present. Dental abscesses are yet another example of the link between your oral health and your overall health. To avoid potentially fatal outcomes, it’s best to have an abscess drained, and an abscessed tooth extracted under the care of an expert in head and neck infections –which is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Contact ORA® Oral Surgery & Implant Studio at 312-328-9000 for more information.


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