Dr John Fisher, Maxillofacial & Oral Surgeon

Odontogenic Infections in the Jaws and Face

What are odontogenic infections?

Odontogenic infections occur in the teeth and the tissues surrounding them. They are most commonly caused by bacteria and can spread in a number of ways including by way of blood circulation, through tissue or the lymphatic system. These dental infections can be both generalised and localised, and can occur in the form of a painful dry socket or an abscess. They can also spread and cause serious conditions like cellulitis and septicemia, severe fever and swelling as well as difficulty breathing in very bad cases.

How can they be treated?

The first step in treating odontogenic infections is getting the correct diagnosis . It's important that the infection is addressed as quickly as possible so that it does not spread and cause additional damage. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to get the infection under control. In some cases, the infection will cause an abscess to form, and it is also possible that a tooth or teeth may need to be removed. Hospitalisation may be required if the patient runs the risk of airway obstruction, if there is difficulty swallowing, if the patient is very ill or if there is an underlying disease.

If there is pus that needs to be removed, an incision will be made so that it can be drained. This process is performed with extreme care so as to avoid damage to the facial nerves and arteries.

What are the symptoms of odontogenic infections?

Some of the most common symptoms include severe pain, discomfort, and swelling the sinuses may be involed. If the infection gets to a stage where an abscess forms, one may feel a throbbing pain, develop a fever and pus may appear at the site of infection. In severe cases, swelling may extend to the neck and tongue.