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Serious Health Risks Of A Dental Fistula

A dental fistula is a canal that opens up between an infected tooth and another area of the body such as the sinus, soft tissue, or bloodstream. The spread of infected material through your body has potentially serious health risks if the fistula and related abscessed tooth untreated.

Here are a few of the most serious health risks of a dental fistula. If you suspect you have a tooth infection, contact your dentist immediately to receive treatment so that the problem doesn't progress:


Infected pus draining from the abscessed tooth into the sinus cavity can cause chronic sinusitis. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, facial swelling, fever, and fatigue.

While sinusitis is typically not life-threatening, the condition can greatly impact your lifestyle. Ongoing symptoms can make everyday life quite uncomfortable and lower your abilities to participate in physical activities.

Antibiotics and steroids can be treated to help sinusitis but some patients might have to undergo surgery in order to completely clear the sinus cavity. The surgical procedure can usually be performed under local anesthesia and the doctor will work to clear out the infected material and to sooth the inflamed tissue within the cavity.

Ludwig's Angina

Ludwig's angina can occur if the fistula passes the infection from the tooth to the soft tissue lining the bottom of the mouth. The soft tissue inflames and becomes swollen. That swelling can become so severe the tissue pushes your tongue up until it blocks the airway, which impedes your ability to breathe.

Severe cases of Ludwig's angina might require a tracheotomy to restore breathing and your doctor might need to cut into the swollen tissue to drain out the infection. You will then receive a lengthy course of antibiotics to reduce the swelling further and clear up the infection. If you suspect Ludwig's angina, get to the dentist as quickly as possible.


Sepsis is a blood infection that can result from the tooth infection spreading through a fistula and into the bloodstream. Symptoms of sepsis include high fever and rapid heartbeat. If treated quickly with antibiotics, the symptoms can stop there.

But if the sepsis is left untreated you run the risk of developing septic shock. This severe form of sepsis creates blood pressure irregularities so severe you can suffer a heart attack. Septic shock treatment involves a heavy course of antibiotics that can only clear up the infection not repair any damage to internal organs.

Ultimately, if you suspect you have an infected tooth you shouldn't ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Seeing your dentist early in the process can keep a simple tooth infection from progressing into a greatly uncomfortable or potentially fatal medical condition. To learn more, contact a professional like Accent On Dentistry - Rowena R Martir DMD.