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What Swelling In Your Mouth Could Mean

Posted on 6/15/2024 by Cornell Dental
A person holding their jaw in painHave you ever noticed a sudden swelling in your mouth? It can be a worrying experience, especially if you're unsure of the cause. While some swelling may be harmless and temporary, others could be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.

This blog aims to shed light on the potential causes of mouth swelling and guide you on when to seek professional help. We'll explore various scenarios, from common causes like minor injuries to more complex dental issues. Remember, this information is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. If you experience persistent or severe swelling, it's crucial to consult your dentist for proper evaluation and management.

Possible Causes of Mouth Swelling:

•  Minor Injuries: Biting your cheek or tongue, or experiencing a slight trauma to the mouth, can cause temporary swelling that usually subsides within a few days.
•  Infection: Swelling accompanied by pain, redness, and pus discharge could indicate an infection. This could be caused by an abscessed tooth, gum disease, or an infected salivary gland.
•  Wisdom Teeth: The eruption of wisdom teeth can often lead to swelling and discomfort, especially if they are impacted or growing at an angle.
•  Dental Procedures: Following certain dental procedures like extractions or fillings, some swelling is expected and usually resolves within a few days.
•  Allergies: Allergic reactions to food, medication, or even dental materials can cause swelling in the mouth and face.
•  Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder, or tumors can also manifest as mouth swelling.

When to See a Dentist:

While minor swelling may resolve on its own, there are situations where seeking prompt dental attention is crucial. Here are some red flags to watch out for:
•  Swelling that persists for more than two days.
•  Painful swelling that interferes with eating, speaking, or swallowing.
•  Swelling accompanied by fever, chills, or difficulty breathing.
•  Pus discharge from the swollen area.
•  Swelling that spreads to the face or neck.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Upon examining the swelling and your medical history, your dentist will determine the underlying cause. X-rays or other diagnostic tests may be necessary. Treatment options will vary depending on the diagnosis. For infections, antibiotics or drainage may be required. In case of wisdom teeth impaction, extraction might be recommended. For allergic reactions, antihistamines or steroids might be prescribed.

Prevention Tips:

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits plays a key role in preventing mouth swelling. This includes brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Additionally, avoiding injuries to the mouth and practicing good dietary habits can help minimize the risk of swelling.


Mouth swelling can have various causes, ranging from minor injuries to more serious conditions. By understanding the potential causes and knowing when to seek professional help, you can effectively manage this symptom and ensure optimal oral health. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for addressing the underlying cause and preventing further complications.
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