Abscessed teeth mean more than pain and discomfort. An abscess in your mouth can lead to life threatening complications, especially if your immune system is compromised by chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease or HIV-AIDS.
Abscesses are caused when bacteria enter your tooth through a crack or cavity that's left unrepaired. Your tooth has a canal that goes from just under the surface to the root; this is usually where blood and nutrients circulate to keep the tooth healthy. But when there's an abscess, this canal also carries bacteria that thrive in the warm, moist gum tissue below the root of the tooth.
Left untreated, an abscess can spread into the head, neck and bloodstream. In extreme cases, this can result in death.
The best way to avoid abscess is visiting your dentist when a tooth gets cracked or otherwise damaged. Tell them what's happened, and they'll be able to recommend the best treatment for you.