Dental Infections, also known as odontogenic infections, can develop from deep caries (cavities), trauma, or periodontal disease. The pulp of the tooth can undergo necrosis (death). This region has a poor blood supply which means antibiotics will be unable to treat the bacteria within the tooth itself. The infection can spread out of the apex (bottom of the root) and spread into the surrounding tissues. The infection can spread in any direction but tends to follow the line of least resistance. Once the cortical bone is eroded the infection will spread into the surrounding tissues and can present as face swelling or a pimple in the gum.
To treat an odontogenic infection generally the bacterial source which lives inside the tooth root must be eradicated. Most infections can be managed by a short course of oral antibiotics and removal of the infected tooth. Severe infections may require admission to a hospital for administration of high dose intravenous antibiotics. It is important to remember that antibiotics alone will not eliminate the bacterial source of the infection.