How Long Is The Wait Until A Tooth Infection Kills You?

February 29, 2024

A tooth infection often starts slowly and presents with symptoms like a sharp ache or lingering tooth sensitivity. Catching and treating it in the early stage is possible and almost 100% successful. However, in case of negligence, it may even be fatal. So, how long is the wait until a tooth infection kills you?

Tooth Infection and Fatality

Time is of the essence; if you do not get in touch with your dental care specialist for an infected tooth for a long time, it will spread to other areas of your body, such as the brain, neck, and jaw. This transmission can be life-threatening. Usually, it takes months for a dental abscess to develop and present with pain, swelling, etc. Ignorance and leaving the infection untreated increases the risk of developing health complications.

Complications That Increase The Likelihood Of A Tooth Infection Killing You

These conditions include:


It is a potentially life-threatening condition when your body’s response to an infection results in widespread inflammation, ultimately leading to organ dysfunction. Symptoms of sepsis include:

  • Fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Confusion
  • Without immediate medical care, sepsis progresses to septic shock and multiple organ failure.

Ludwig’s Angina

This bacterial infection affects the mouth floor, resulting from an untreated dental abscess or infection. Rapid swelling of the tissues under the tongue and around the neck is seen, obstructing the airway.

Brain Abscess

It is a condition in which pus localization within the brain tissue is seen, often due to bacteria spreading from a distant site of tooth infection, such as abscessed gum. Symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Neurological deficits
  • Altered mental status

When this condition does not receive timely treatment, brain abscesses lead to increased intracranial pressure and fatal complications. So, leaving a tooth infection can potentially kill you.


Bacteria infect the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves by bacteria entering the bloodstream from an untreated tooth infection. This condition leads to complications like:

  • Heart valve damage
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Septic emboli travel to other parts of the body.

Endocarditis is not a condition to be taken lightly. It requires aggressive and intense treatment with antibiotics along with surgical intervention to prevent life-threatening complications when needed.

Necrotizing Fasciitis

It is commonly referred to as a flesh-eating disease and is considered a rare but severe soft tissue infection. It is seen to rapidly destroy the skin, muscles, and underlying tissues. Usually, NF is associated with trauma or surgery; it can also occur as a complication of untreated tooth infections spreading to deeper tissues, ultimately killing you.


Did you know humans have a space between the chest and lungs known as the mediastinum? Well, bacteria can harm any part of the body, including this. Leaving a tooth infection untreated can spread to this area through deep neck spaces or blood vessels, proving to be life-threatening. Prompt diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics and sometimes surgical drainage are necessary to prevent serious complications.

Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis

Although this condition is rare, its seriousness cannot be ignored. Cavernous sinuses are present behind each eye socket and may develop clots. In such a situation, an untreated tooth infection leads to bacteria spreading through veins from nearby structures, causing complications like stroke or brain damage.

Closing Note

We urge you not to let any signs of tooth infection slide. If you can spot visible changes in your gums along with bleeding and bad breath, contact your dentist immediately before your tooth infection kills you. If you have more queries or concerns, contact Saifee Family Dentistry at (281) 350-5600 to learn more about what we have in store for you and how Dr. Husein Alibhai, an active member of the American Dental Association, can help you find the solution for your oral disease. For details, visit us at our dental office.