Odontogenic infections (OI) are a major reason for consultation in dental practice. They affect people of all ages, and most of them respond well to current medical and surgical treatments. However, some OI can spread to vital and deep structures, overcome the host immune system - especially in diabetic, immunocompromised or weakened patients - and even prove fatal. Ludwig's angina is a severe form of diffuse cellulitis that can have an acute onset and spread very rapidly, bilaterally affecting areas of the head and neck, and may prove life threatening. A case of severe dental infection is presented in which emphasis is placed on the importance of airway maintenance, followed by surgical decompression under adequate antibiotic coverage. Key words:Ludwig's angina, severe odontogenic infection, surgical decompression, dental infection.