Ludwig Angina

A Severe Complication of Dental Abscess


This medical condition stems from work in 1836 by famous German physiologist Karl Friedrich Wilhelm von Ludwig. It is a relatively rare infection which stems from the floor of the mouth and spreads rapidly causing elevation and displacement of the tongue.

This bacterial infection is most commonly caused by Streptococcus or Staphylococcus. It often occurs after a tooth abscess but can also be related to any of the following:

peritonsillar or parapharyngeal abscesses,

oral piercings

inflammation of the salivary glands especially the submandibular gland

poor dental hygiene

recent dental work

Early detection and quick treatment lead to most patients making a full recovery.


The main symptoms comprise the following:

swelling of the tongue

neck pain with swelling and redness

breathing problems

Ludwig Angina can also be associated with the following:

Feeling unwell


Difficulty Swallowing


Speech problems

There is a substantial risk of severe complications if the condition does not receive timely care with the development of symptoms such as sepsis or airway obstruction both of which are medical emergencies.  


The first-line treatment is antibiotics which are often administered intravenously.

Surgery may be required to drain any significant build-up of fluid to help reduce swelling.

Dental hygiene is of paramount importance to help prevent complications like Ludwig angina from arising. Always try and brush your teeth morning and night with a frequent antiseptic mouthwash.


Article written by Dr S Noorpuri
Disclaimer: This article is solely for information purposes. It is not to replace a consultation with a qualified health professional. It should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. The article is based on the opinions of the author who retains copyright. You are advised to make your own health decisions based on your research and alongside a qualified health professional. Please consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.

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