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What are the Common Causes of Jaw Swelling?

Kaiser Castro
Kaiser Castro

Swelling in and around the jaw area can have many physiological and physical causes. Jaw swelling is commonly caused by an impacted wisdom tooth, blunt trauma or physiological abnormalities. There are many lymph nodes, sensitive tissues and muscles that can get swollen for a number of reasons as well.

A dental abnormality such as an impacted wisdom tooth is a common cause for the jaw area to swell. The wisdom tooth usually grows into the back molars. Sometimes the tooth can become impacted, meaning that it does not have enough space in the jaw for it to grow in properly. An impacted wisdom tooth can cause the jaw to swell, causing localized pain and damaging nearby teeth. Some individuals choose to remove their wisdom teeth before they have the chance to cause pain and discomfort.

A dental abnormality may cause jaw swelling.
A dental abnormality may cause jaw swelling.

A broken jaw, also called a mandibular fracture, can cause excessive jaw swelling. The jaw can be fractured because of a fall, blunt trauma or excessive pressure around the mouth area. When the jaw becomes fractured, the immune system responds by sending white blood cells into the area, which can cause the area to become tender and swollen. Bone fragments can also become impacted, causing the jaw to become swollen.

Trauma to the jaw may cause jaw swelling.
Trauma to the jaw may cause jaw swelling.

If a person is undergoing facial surgery or medical alterations, then it is common for his or her jaw area to become swollen. Liposuction in and around the cheek area, chin surgery and nose jobs are surgical procedures that are commonly connected with transient jaw swelling. Complications during surgery can also cause the face and jawline to swell.

Jaw cysts look like boils or large pimples filled with fluid, and they cause jaw swelling because of their size or because of a secondary infection caused by the cyst. Commonly found under the skin or around the jaw bone, these cysts can also form in the saliva glands. A large cyst can weaken the structure of the jaw, making it more prone to fractures. Cysts that implode can cause inflammation, leading to swelling and oversensitivity.

Facial surgery may cause jaw swelling.
Facial surgery may cause jaw swelling.

The large lumps under the jawline are among the body's lymph nodes. When the body goes through an infection or illness, the lymph nodes tend to become swollen, including those located around the jawline. Being an integral part of the immune system, these lymph nodes work in overdrive when the body is under attack by creating beneficial antibodies, and they can become swollen.

Discussion Comments


I had my jaw broken in three places after I was hit from behind at work (I am a nurse). My jaw needed to be wired and plated, which was a nine hour operation. My jaw was wired shut for four weeks and then I slowly progressed back from a liquid diet to normal food again. Last week I tried pizza for the 1st time since I was hit (10 weeks post op), and although I went easy with it, I experienced a lot of pain afterward. Now, five days later, my lower gums are swollen and tender. My bite feels the same, but I am worried that the fracture site may be bleeding again.


A couple of years ago, my wisdom tooth on the bottom started becoming very painful. My jaw started swelling up and I had a hard knot on my jawline. I finally went to the dentist and he confirmed that my wisdom tooth had to come out. I had an abscess and had to take antibiotics to get the infection down before he could remove the tooth.

After about a week, he was able to remove the tooth and it made me feel so much better. The swelling went down after a couple of days.


I was an adult when I had my wisdom teeth removed and had quite a tough time of it. I had one side done at a time and the first side was done by my dentist who was very good at pulling teeth.

When it came time to have the second side done, I went back to my dentist, but he could not get one tooth to come out. I had to go to an oral surgeon for him to finish and he even had a hard time removing that tooth.

My jaw was swollen and sore for several days after that surgery. I would say if you are a young person and have been recommended to have your wisdom teeth removed, to have it done as soon as possible.

I would hope that a younger person would not have as many problems and would not have to live with a swollen jaw for several days after the surgery. All you can do is take a pain reliever for the pain and give it a few days for the swelling to go down.


When my sister was in high school, she was in a very bad car accident and this resulted in a broken jaw. She had her jaw wired shut for several weeks, and had to eat all of her food through a straw.

I remember the swelling in her jaw took a long time to return to normal. It was also very bruised for a long time. She still has two small scars on each side of her jaw from this accident.

Even many years later she doesn't remember much about the accident, but has the scars to remind her of it.


A tooth infection from a cavity can cause your jaw to swell. It usually hurts badly for a couple of days or even a week before it gets to the swelling stage. If your toothache causes your jaw to swell -- you need to go visit a dentist as soon as possible.

The pain from a tooth infection is very recognizable as a hot throbbing feeling inside your jaw.

Dentist work is just so expensive, I really can't afford to visit for every little tooth ache. I know that a lot of other people have the same problem, but if a toothache persists for longer than a few days -- you should see a dentist.


When I was in middle school I had to have my jaw broken for the orthodontics I was going to have to wear to straighten my teeth out. I had a terrible overbite and the only thing they could do was break the jaw and realign it so that my teeth could sit firmly together. This caused a huge amount of swelling and I looked liked I'd been beaten up for quite a while afterward.

What really helped me soothe the jaw swelling were numerous ice packs and a lot of rest. Your body needs time to heal after a serious surgery. Rest assured though, the jaw swelling does eventually go down.


Getting your wisdom teeth in can be a very painful experience and I recommend anyone who has the funds to get theirs out before it becomes a real issue.

For myself, I have always hated the dentist and the thought of surgery terrified me. Unfortunately, my wisdom teeth ended up becoming impacted and I ended up with my jaw swelling, which made it nearly impossible to eat. Not to mention the fact that I looked like I had the mumps!

I ended up at an oral surgeon instead of a regular dentist because of the damage my wisdom teeth had caused. Everything worked out after awhile, but recovery was tough. I really think it's best to get your wisdom teeth out before you get a side effect like jaw swelling.

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    • A dental abnormality may cause jaw swelling.
      By: eyetronic
      A dental abnormality may cause jaw swelling.
    • Trauma to the jaw may cause jaw swelling.
      By: Scott Griessel
      Trauma to the jaw may cause jaw swelling.
    • Facial surgery may cause jaw swelling.
      By: puhhha
      Facial surgery may cause jaw swelling.
    • Swollen lymph nodes can indicate a serious health condition.
      By: Syda Productions
      Swollen lymph nodes can indicate a serious health condition.
    • When the jaw breaks, the immune system sends white blood cells to the area, causing the area to become tender and swollen.
      By: Nobilior
      When the jaw breaks, the immune system sends white blood cells to the area, causing the area to become tender and swollen.