PDF: A Guide to Deep Neck Space Fascial Infections for the Dental Team

The majority of serious dental infections can be prevented by early treatment of the local pathology.

Patients with potentially life-threatening neck space infections arising from the oral cavity may, however, still present in dental practice.

This paper outlines the pertinent surgical anatomy and pathophysiology, signs and symptoms, and key early-stage management of these severe infections. 

The dental team should be able to assess patients presenting with potential neck space involvement from a dental or oral infection. 

They should be able to instigate appropriate early treatment, and identify those requiring prompt referral for assessment and management.

This paper provides the dental team with the knowledge required to recognize patients with actual or impending neck space infection. 

The basic surgical anatomy of the fascial spaces is reviewed to provide an illustration of how infection arising in the dental tissues may spread through them.

The cardinal clinical signs and symptoms of deep neck space infection are described, with a particular emphasis on those features that merit the prompt input of a maxillofacial team. 

The principles of the management of deep neck space infections are also described. Table 1 provides a glossary of commonly used terminology. 

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