If left alone with the etiology still present, a carious tooth surface typically will continue to demineralize. Once the demineralization process has exposed the pulp, which is the neurovascular bundle at the center of each tooth, an infection can result. An untreated dental abscess can lead to the rapid development of cellulitis, which is dissemination of the infection into adjacent soft tissues. Cavernous sinus thrombosis, or dissemination of the infection into the cerebral circulation, and Ludwig's angina, a dissemination of a cellulitis that can close off the respiratory tract, pose life-threatening complications, which can also result from an untreated dental abscess.
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