Morbidity and Cost of Odontogenic Infections

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Cost analysis of deep neck space infections from odontogenic origin and review of the morbidity of potentially preventable complications.

Study Design

Case series with chart review.


Level 1 trauma center and academic safety net hospital.

Subjects and Methods

Patients treated for deep neck space infections due to an odontogenic source between 2001 and 2010 were reviewed. Two hundred patients were included in the study. Ninety-eight patients required inpatient admission. Twelve percent of these patients had difficult airways, and 16% had at least 1 day in the intensive care unit. Cost data were available only for the later 3.5 years of the study period.


The overall cost of treatment for these 71 individuals exceeded $1.1 million.


The cost of treatment for odontogenic infections is staggering. Based on assumptions of the percentage of infections in the metropolitan area captured at Hennepin County Medical Center, extrapolation to the total national cost of inpatient care approaches $200 million annually. This study highlights the importance of access to medical and preventative dental care for the general population and demonstrates the cost benefit that could be achieved through prevention of disease and, therefore, avoidance of its complications.

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