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Sepsis – what dental teams should know?



Did you know that in the UK alone, sepsis kills up to 48,000 people every year?

What is sepsis?

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that can arise when the body’s abnormal immune response to an infection causes organs to start failing.

The high number of sepsis fatalities is mainly due to the rapid onset of the condition and the difficulty in diagnosing it, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a failure to diagnose and treat patients suffering from sepsis in time.

Dental conditions and sepsis

Although sepsis following a bacterial infection from a dental condition or treatment is rare, this life-threatening condition can occur if patients are not managed appropriately. It is therefore essential that providers and teams can recognise signs and symptoms of sepsis and know how it should be managed.

As a dental professional, what are the signs and symptoms of a dental infection you should look out for?

Key symptoms of sepsis:

  • Malaise

  • Shivering

  • Muscle pain

  • Failure to pass urine in the previous 18 hours.

  • Non-blanching rash and cyanosis of the skin, lips or tongue

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Increased heart rate

  • Increased respiratory rate

  • Altered mental state.

  • Bad breath

  • Bitter/bad taste in the mouth

  • Fever

  • Pain

  • Swelling of the gum

  • Swollen glands of the neck

  • Swelling in the jaw.

What should a patient do if they suspect oral infection?

Seek medical attention from their dentist or A&E as soon as possible if any of the symptoms arise’

Use hot salt water mouthwashes to reduce pain and increase the chance of drainage in the interim.

Take appropriate analgesia (pain killers) such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

What should dental teams have in place?

In light of the increase in the incidence of sepsis and the serious nature of the condition, it is important that you update your practice policies and procedures and ensure all your team are trained in how to recognise sepsis and what action is needed.

Effective Out of Hours Arrangements

You must have effective out-of-hours arrangements for ensuring that patients with a dental infection or patients who are showing signs and symptoms of sepsis have access to appropriate treatment and advice without delay.

Want to learn more about Sepsis? Try our online course!


Our online, verifiable Sepsis CPD course for dental professionals will help you understand your obligations in relation to recognising the life-threatening symptoms of sepsis, and you will understand how to apply this obligated duty into your day to day work. The course is suitable for the whole dental team!

This is one of our most popular courses. We’ve issued more than 5,000 certificates to dental professionals just like you for Sepsis online training.

More than 98% of dental professionals who completed this course would recommend this course to others.

The course provides 60 minutes of verifiable CPD


See our sepsis course

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