A dental abscess is a collection of pus that can form inside the teeth, in the gums, or in the bone that holds the teeth in place. It’s caused by a bacterial infection. An abscess at the end of a tooth is called a periapical abscess. An abscess in the gum is called a periodontal abscess.
Submandibular space infection is a rapidly spreading, bilateral, indurated cellulitis occurring in the suprahyoid soft tissues, the floor of the mouth, and both sublingual and submaxillary spaces without abscess formation. Although not a true abscess, it resembles one clinically and is treated similarly.
The condition usually develops from an odontogenic infection, especially of the 2nd and 3rd mandibular molars, or as an extension of peritonsillar cellulitis. Contributing factors may include poor dental hygiene, tooth extractions, and trauma (eg, fractures of the mandible, lacerations of the floor of the mouth).
If an abscess is not treated, the infection can last for months or even years. It will not go away on its own, so it’s important not to ignore the symptoms. If the infection is not treated, it can damage the surrounding bone and teeth. A hollow tunnel sometimes forms through the bone and skin to allow pus to drain.