Read below about severe jaw swelling, including causes and common questions. Or get a personalized analysis of your severe jaw swelling from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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10 Potential Severe Jaw Swelling Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Acute Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)

    A salivary duct stone is the most common disorder of the salivary glands (where you make spit). They can range in size from tiny particles to stones that are several centimeters in length.

    Symptoms last 26 days on average

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    swelling on one side of the face, swollen jaw, painful face swelling, spontaneous jaw pain, painful jaw swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  2. 2.Tooth Abscess (Infection)

    A tooth abscess is a collection of infected material (pus) in the center of a tooth. It is due to bacterial infection.

    Resolves after treatment

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    severe jaw or tooth pain, swollen jaw, jaw stiffness, tooth pain that gets worse with hot, cold, or sweet beverages, warm and red jaw swelling
    Symptoms that always occur with tooth abscess (infection):
    severe jaw or tooth pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Mumps

    Mumps or "the mumps" is a viral infection for which most people have been vaccinated when they were a child. Though in rare cases, even vaccinated people can still get sick. Symptoms of the mumps are swelling of the parotid gland (this gland produces your spit and is located in the cheek), fever, face pain and a sore throat.

    Usually resolves within 2 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, swelling of the face, jaw or parotid gland
    Symptoms that always occur with mumps:
    swelling of the face, jaw or parotid gland
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  4. 4.Chronic Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)

    A salivary duct stone is the most common disorder of the salivary glands (where you make spit). They can range in size from tiny particles to stones that are several centimeters in length.

    Symptoms last 26 days on average

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    swelling on one side of the face, swollen jaw, spontaneous jaw pain, painful jaw swelling, painful face swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  5. 5.Infected Wisdom Tooth (Pericoronitis)

    Pericoronitis of the 3rd molar is an infection of the gums surrounding the 3rd molar (wisdom tooth). It almost never happens to normal teeth because wisdom teeth take a long time to break the gums (erupt). It's believed that once the wisdom tooth breaks the surface of the gums, the bacteria in the mouth get into the gums at that spot and cause an infection. This is also worsened by food particles that build up in the area.

    Need treatment for it to get better

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    possible wisdom tooth pain, moderate tooth pain, tooth pain that makes chewing difficult, severe tooth pain, mild tooth pain
    Symptoms that always occur with infected wisdom tooth (pericoronitis):
    possible wisdom tooth pain
    Urgency:
    In-person visit

    Severe Jaw Swelling Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having severe jaw swelling.

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  6. 6.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when they're sick collect excess mucus and can become infected. When your symptoms are persisting for 10 days or more or are getting worse over time, it's more likely that you'll have a bacterial infection as compared to a viral infection.

    7-15 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Temporomandibular Joint (Tmj) Dysfunction Disorder

    The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located in front of the ear, and it connects the jaw to the side of the head. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is a painful condition which can be caused by excess tension in jaw mucles, faulty alignment between upper and lower teeth, arthritis in the joint, or injury of the jaw or face.

    Outcome is highly case-dependent.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw, history of headaches, jaw pain, pain in the back of the neck
    Symptoms that always occur with temporomandibular joint (tmj) dysfunction disorder:
    pain, restricted movement, and clicking sounds from jaw
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Infection of the Salivary Duct (Sialadenitis)

    The ducts that create saliva can be infected by bacteria and is typically found after surgery in the mouth and in the elderly that take medications that slow saliva production.

    Prognosis is good if you get treatment early, very poor if not. 78% of people die if treatment is not started in time.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, chills, swelling on one side of the face, pain on one side of the face, swollen jaw
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  9. 9.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    Most recover within 1 week but cough and malaise can persist for 2 weeks.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  10. 10.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    Symptoms should subside within 7-10 days

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sinusitis symptoms, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Severe Jaw Swelling

  • Q.If you touch the swollen area, is there pain?
  • Q.Is your swollen area warm and red?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Are your symptoms worse while eating?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our severe jaw swelling symptom checker to find out more.

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Severe Jaw Swelling Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced severe jaw swelling have also experienced:

    • 17% Severe Jaw Pain
    • 13% Jaw Pain
    • 5% Toothache
  • People who have experienced severe jaw swelling had symptoms persist for:

    • 49% Less Than a Week
    • 35% Less Than a Day
    • 6% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced severe jaw swelling were most often matched with:

    • 61% Acute Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)
    • 13% Tooth Abscess (Infection)
    • 6% Mumps
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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