In these unprecedented times, it is vitally important for people to know how to prevent infections that can lead to sepsis and recognize the signs and symptoms of sepsis. We as dental assistants need to educate our patients as to what can happen, the signs and symptoms, and prevention.
Sepsis occurs when chemicals are released in the bloodstream to fight an infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This can cause a cascade of changes that damage multiple organ systems, leading them to fail, sometimes even resulting in death.
Infections can develop anywhere in the mouth – in the gum tissue, lips, palate, cheeks and tongue or within and below the teeth. Paying attention to dental health is important in preventing dental infections. A dental infection within or below a tooth can be caused by tooth decay or a broken tooth that causes the pulp to become infected. The pulp is the part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, connective tissue and large nerves. When an infection occurs, bacteria can move out of the tooth to the bone or tissue below, forming a dental abscess. A dental infection can lead to sepsis. Without proper treatment, tooth infections can spread to other areas of the body, and this can lead to serious and potentially life threatening complications.
In most cases, tooth infections are easily treatable. However, a person who delays treatment is at risk of developing the following complications:
Osteomyelitis: An infection of the bone surrounding the tooth.
Cavernous sinus thrombosis: An infection of the blood vessels within the sinuses
Cellulitis: An infection of the skin and at directly beneath the skin
Parapharyngeal abscess: An abscess at the back of the mouth
Sepsis: A serious medical condition in which the immune system severely overreacts to an infection in the blood.
Without treatment, a tooth infection can spread to the face and neck. Severe infections may even reach more distant parts of the body, affecting multiple tissues and systems throughout the body.
It is rare for a tooth infection to spread to other pats of the body. However, if this does happen, the consequences can be severe. The following symptoms could indicate that a tooth infection has spread to another part of the body. If a tooth infection is suspected time is of the essence in seeking medical treatment.