Can a Tooth Infection Kill You? (& How Long Until It Does)

BY Hook Webmaster  |  September 7th, 2023
Hook Webmaster

If you clicked on this blog, you’re probably dealing with some tooth pain or even an infection. And you might be stressed out or frightened. Start by taking a deep breath because you’re gonna be okay!

You’re wondering “how long until a tooth infection kills you,” and we’ll share the facts about the major complications of untreated tooth infections, how to notice an infection, and how to treat it.

The good news is that most tooth infections are often harmless as long as they’re treated early on!

Can a Tooth Infection Eventually Kill You?

woman complaining from tooth pain

Getting right to the point— yes, a tooth infection can eventually kill you if left untreated or if not addressed early enough.

A tooth infection happens when bacteria enters the soft tissue or nerve of the tooth, usually by way of tooth injury or tooth decay. Infections of any kind used to be deadly before antibiotics were invented because the bacteria can spread to other areas of your body, such as:

In fact, in the 17th and 18th centuries, dental infections were one of the top causes of death. But thanks to modern medical advancements, death from tooth infections is now very rare. However, it’s still important to seek treatment at the first sign of infection, which we’ll cover later.

What Complications From a Tooth Infection Can Lead to Death?

There’s a distinction to be made: tooth infections rarely cause death just by existing. They cause death when they spread to other parts of the body and cause more complications.

Things start to get serious once a dental abscess develops, which is a pocket of pus that builds up around the infected tooth, which usually takes a couple of months to form. The untreated tooth infection can become life-threatening when it spreads and turns into one of the following issues:

(👋 Hi, just checking in. These complications are definitely scary, and your brain might be thinking of the worst-case scenario right now. Just remember that these problems are rare, and most of the time, early treatment of an infected tooth will set you up for success.)

How Long Until a Tooth Infection Kills You?

As mentioned earlier, things start to get serious once a tooth abscess forms. A dental abscess from tooth decay can take many months to develop. However, an abscess from a tooth injury may develop quicker.

Persistent toothaches typically go on for months after a dental abscess forms (if left untreated). After a handful of weeks or a few months, that’s when the infection can spread and cause one of the serious complications listed above. Once one of those problems develops, death can occur quickly— even within a matter of days.

How to Notice a Tooth Infection

patient's teeth xray being reviewed by dentist

The good news is you often have months to notice a tooth infection and seek medical care. Dental infections won’t go away on their own, so if you notice any of the following symptoms that indicate the beginning of a dental infection, be sure to visit a dentist for timely treatment:

Now, if you have the above symptoms combined with any listed below, that’s an indication of a severe infection, and you should visit the emergency room or urgent care right away:

Listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to seek care if you feel like something is off.

How a Tooth Infection Is Treated

Thankfully, there are many successful ways to treat a dental infection. These include:

Take Preventative Dental Care Into Your Own Hands

At the end of the day, tooth infections are often preventable with regular tooth brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings every six months. Whether you need a dentist to treat an infection or you’re simply looking to schedule a professional cleaning, Wayzata Dental in Minnesota can help!

We’re proud to offer pain-free laser dentistry for many of our services, so we can accommodate you if you have dental anxiety. Reach out to Wayzata Dental to make an appointment!

Hook Webmaster