Odontogenic infections, consisting primarily of dental caries and periodontal disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), are common and have local (eg, tooth loss) and, in some cases, systemic implications. In the United States, it is estimated that 25 percent of adults over the age of 60 have lost all their teeth (edentulism), approximately one-half from periodontal disease and one-half from dental caries [1,2].
In addition to producing pain and discomfort, odontogenic infections can extend beyond natural barriers and result in potentially life-threatening complications, such as infections of the deep fascial spaces of the head and neck. (See "Deep neck space infections".)
Periodontal infection can also be associated with a number of systemic disorders. These include fever of unknown origin, bacteremic seeding of heart valves and prosthetic devices, preterm birth of low birth weight children, and an increased risk for coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular events.
The complications, diagnosis, and treatment of odontogenic infections will be reviewed here. The epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical manifestations of these infections are discussed separately. (See "Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and clinical manifestations of odontogenic infections" and "Gingivitis and periodontitis in adults: Classification and dental treatment".)
Suppurative odontogenic infections may extend to potential fascial spaces in the orofacial area (orofacial space infections) or deep in the head and neck (peripharyngeal space infections). The latter complication is often life threatening. (See "Deep neck space infections".)