Swollen Jaw: What Causes It and How to Treat the Symptoms

Swollen Jaw What Causes It and How to Treat the Symptoms

Swollen jaws can be an alarming symptom, often associated with dental issues such as tooth infections, including those caused by wisdom teeth, and swollen lymph nodes. In this guide, we will explore the causes behind a swollen lymph node wisdom tooth, particularly in relation to tooth infections and wisdom teeth, and discuss effective treatment options to alleviate discomfort and promote healing.

Causes of a swollen jaw

A swollen jaw can occur due to various underlying causes, ranging from dental issues to medical conditions. Here are some common causes of a swollen jaw:

  1. Tooth infections: Dental abscesses or infections, including those affecting the root or surrounding tissues of a tooth, are a prevalent cause of a swollen jaw. These infections often result from tooth decay, untreated dental cavities, or gum disease.
  2. Impacted wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, can become impacted when they fail to fully emerge through the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to inflammation, infection, and swelling in the jaw area.
  3. Salivary gland infection: The salivary glands play a vital role in promoting digestion and upholding oral health by producing saliva. Infections in these glands, known as sialadenitis, can cause swelling and tenderness in the jaw, typically due to blockage of the salivary ducts or bacterial infection.
  4. Jaw injuries or trauma: Physical trauma or injury to the jaw, such as fractures or dislocations, can result in swelling. These injuries may occur due to accidents, sports-related incidents, or physical altercations.
  5. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: The TMJ connects the jawbone to the skull and allows for jaw movement. TMJ disorders, characterized by problems with the joint and surrounding muscles, can cause jaw swelling, pain, and limited jaw movement.
  6. Lymphadenopathy: Swollen lymph nodes can occur in response to infections or other underlying medical conditions. Lymph nodes are small immune system organs that help fight infections. When there is an infection or inflammation in the head or neck region, the nearby lymph nodes may swell, leading to jaw swelling.
  7. Allergic Reactions: Severe allergic reactions, such as angioedema or anaphylaxis, can cause rapid swelling in various parts of the body, including the jaw and face. This swelling is typically accompanied by other symptoms like difficulty breathing, hives, or itching.
  8. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like mumps, cellulitis (skin infection), osteomyelitis (bone infection), or tumours in the jaw or salivary glands can also result in jaw swelling.

Common signs of a swollen jaw

When experiencing a tooth infection and swollen jaw, there are several common accompanying symptoms that may occur alongside it. These symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause of the swelling. Here are some common accompanying symptoms of a swollen jaw:

  1. Pain or tenderness: Swelling in the jaw is often accompanied by pain or tenderness. The affected area may be sensitive to touch, making it uncomfortable to chew or open the mouth fully.
  2. Difficulty eating: Swollen jaws can make eating difficult and uncomfortable. The swelling can limit jaw movement and cause discomfort when biting or chewing.
  3. Facial swelling: In some cases, the swelling may extend beyond the jawline and affect the face. The cheeks or other areas of the face may appear puffy or swollen.
  4. Difficulty speaking: Swelling in the jaw can make it challenging to speak clearly or articulate certain sounds properly. The limited jaw movement and discomfort can impact speech patterns.
  5. Fever: Infections, such as tooth infections, which can cause a swollen jaw, may be accompanied by a fever. A fever is the body’s natural response to an infection and is often indicative of an ongoing immune response.
  6. Swollen lymph nodes: Swollen lymph nodes are commonly associated with tooth infections and can occur alongside a swollen jaw. These lymph nodes, located near the jawline or under the chin, may feel tender to the touch and be noticeable as small, firm bumps.
  7. Bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth: A tooth infection or other dental issues can lead to bad breath (halitosis) or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. The presence of bacteria and the breakdown of tissues can contribute to these symptoms.


Professional Dental Care: When faced with a swollen jaw, it is crucial to seek professional dental care promptly. Dentists will perform a comprehensive examination to determine the underlying cause of the swelling, focusing on potential tooth infections and impacted wisdom teeth. Treatment options may include:

  • Antibiotics: Prescribed to combat the infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Dental procedures: Root canal therapy or extraction may be necessary to address the infected tooth or impacted wisdom tooth.

Pain Management: In addition to dental treatment, over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help alleviate discomfort and reduce swelling. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional or dentist before taking any medication.

Warm Compresses: Applying a warm compress to the swollen area can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Gently hold the warm compress against the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day.

Last Few Words

A swollen jaw can be a distressing symptom, often caused by tooth infections and impacted wisdom teeth. Understanding the underlying causes and seeking prompt dental care is vital for effective treatment and relief. By practising good oral hygiene and maintaining regular dental check-ups, you can prevent dental issues that may lead to a swollen jaw.

At Emergency Dentist London Pro, we are committed to providing individuals with dental care at affordable prices. Be sure to connect with us if you have been suffering from a tooth infection or swollen jaw.

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