What can cause a swollen jaw?

A swollen jaw is a troublesome symptom that can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common causes of a swollen jaw include traumatic injuries, infections, or dental problems. Cysts or tumors can also cause the jaw to swell, depending on their size and location. A disorder that affects the muscles and joints of the jaw, called TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder, is another possible culprit. Any questions or concerns about developing a swollen jaw should be directed to a doctor or other medical professional.

Traumatic injuries are among the most obvious causes of a swollen jaw. These injuries can occur from things like accidental sports injuries, car accidents, or physical abuse. An injury like this should be evaluated by a doctor right away to make sure the jaw isn't fractured or to make sure the muscles or nerves haven't sustained significant damage. Depending on the type of injury present, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Infections and dental problems can sometimes cause jaw swelling. Infections may be related to underlying dental problems or may come from a systemic infection that settles in the lymph nodes. Prescription antibiotics are usually needed to clear the infection and may be prescribed by a doctor or dentist. Dental problems such as cavities, abscesses, and broken or damaged teeth can cause the jaw to swell. Proper medical and dental care is important, as infections that start in the mouth can migrate to other areas of the body, sometimes leading to quite serious medical complications.

Cysts or tumors are rare, although they can cause the jaw to swell if they are present. If the mass cannot be detected on physical exam and other causes have been ruled out, your doctor or dentist may order additional tests, such as x-rays, to diagnose the problem. In many cases, surgical intervention is necessary to remove the mass.

TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint disorder, affects the muscles that surround the jaw as well as the joint that allows the jaw to move. In some cases, this condition can result in a swollen jaw that often resolves on its own, only to reappear later. While over-the-counter or prescription medications can help with some of the symptoms associated with this disorder, extreme cases of TMJ often require some form of surgical intervention.

Go up