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Swollen Mouth Symptoms

The mouth is perhaps the most sensitive of all the parts of the body. If the mouth fails to detect that you're eating something that might be hazardous, you could be harmed. That's why it will respond right away with warning signals, such as redness, pain and swelling, if it is touched by anything that might cause allergy or illness.

Characteristics:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat.
  • Red, sore, blistered appearance on the inside of the mouth.
  • A rounded lump anywhere inside the mouth, which may be painful or painless.
  • Difficulty speaking, eating, and swallowing due to dryness, pain, and swelling.
  • Soreness and swelling of the roof of the mouth.

Who is most often affected by swollen mouth symptoms?

  • Anyone who smokes.
  • -
  • Those not practicing good oral hygiene.

Are swollen mouth symptoms serious?

  • Temporary irritation from foods or beverages will heal quickly with a little care and is not serious.
  • Unexplained, persistent swelling that causes pain or other difficulty should be seen by a medical provider.
  • Sudden swelling that includes tightening of the throat and interferes with breathing is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.

Swollen Mouth Causes Overview

Many conditions can cause the symptom of a swollen mouth. We've listed several different causes here, in approximate order from most to least common.

Allergy:

  • Allergies will usually cause swelling in other parts of the body, too, as well as in the mouth, lips, tongue, and palate (the roof of the mouth.)
  • Allergies can be causes by:
  • Foods.
  • Medication.
  • Plants that you have touched just before touching your mouth.
  • Insect bites or stings on the lips or even the tongue.

Trauma:

  • Dental treatment or surgery may cause swelling after the procedure.
  • Sports injury. A ball or another player may strike you in the mouth and result in swelling.
  • Other injury, such as a car accident, can cause trauma to the mouth.

Infection:

  • A bacterial infection can cause an abscess, which is a painful, infected lump inside the mouth.
  • A viral infection or "cold sore" can cause the roof of the mouth to swell at the same time the sore appears.
  • In rare cases bacteria may spread from a tooth infection and get into the floor of the mouth. This can cause enough swelling to displace the tongue and push it back until it blocks the throat and, though infrequent, can cause difficulty breathing and a medical emergency.

Illness:

  • Some viral illnesses can cause swelling and itching of the roof of the mouth, along with sore throat, swollen glands and tonsils, fatigue, and high fever.
  • A sinus infection may cause swelling of the roof of the mouth as well as pain, pressure, fever, headache, and nasal congestion.
  • A blocked salivary gland can fill up with mucus and form a cyst. This is a soft painless swelling that will appear in the cheeks or on the floor of the mouth.

Irritation:

  • Redness, soreness, and swelling in the mouth can occur with repeated exposures to irritating substances such as:
  • Cigarette smoke.
  • Chewing tobacco.
  • Alcohol.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Rough, salty foods such as corn chips or jerky.
  • Very hot beverages.

Inflammation of the mucosa, or tissues lining the mouth, can cause sores, redness, and swelling of the gums and mouth due to:

  • Radiation therapy to the head and neck.
  • Chemotherapy.
  • Oxygen therapy.
  • Dehydration.
  • Poor mouth hygiene.
  • Alcohol and tobacco use.
  • A very poor-quality, low-protein diet.

Rare and unusual causes:

  • Some forms of swelling are hereditary and may involve the mouth and throat as well as other parts of the body (where the swelling is known as edema).
  • Tumors can cause swelling of the roof of mouth if the tumor is above it, as well as causing other types of mouth ulcers and lumps.

9 Potential Swollen Mouth 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.Gingivitis

    Gingivitis is the infection of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is caused by plaque and/or tartar that has built up on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky layer of gunk made by food particles, mucus, and bacteria. After a while, plaque hardens to become tartar (or calculus). Plaque and tartar at the bottom of the teeth causes the gums to become irritated and infected.

    Great, with dental care and improvement in dental hygiene

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    bleeding gums, gum pain, gum swelling, gum redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (Anug)

    Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) is a relatively rare infection of the gums. It's also known as "trench mouth", as it was discovered in a large number of soldiers in WWI that were stuck in trenches. The pain caused by ANUG is what makes it different from chronic periodontitis, and it requires treatment by professionals.

    Good prognosis with treatment. Without treatment, ANUG can become recurrent and chronic.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    bleeding gums, gum pain, chronically bad breath, severe mouth pain, gum swelling
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  3. 3.Oral Herpes

    Herpetic stomatitis is a viral infection of the mouth that causes fever and red and inflamed gums. This typically happens early in childhood.

    1-2 weeks but recurrent

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, gum pain, painful mouth sore, gum swelling, gum redness
    Symptoms that always occur with oral herpes:
    gum pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.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

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  5. 5.Allergic Reaction (Not Life - Threatening)

    When the body encounters a harmful substance, it responds with inflammation and swelling that can be protective. In many individuals, the body responds this way to substances that are not normally harmful, like foods or pollen. This is the basis of allergy, or Type 1 Hypersensitivity.

    Symptoms should resolve in a matter of hours.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    swollen face, swollen lips, lip numbness, hives, red swollen bumps or patches with a pale center, lip redness
    Symptoms that never occur with allergic reaction (not life-threatening):
    shortness of breath, throat itching
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.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
  7. 7.Swelling Caused by Use of an Ace Inhibitor

    ACE Inhibitors are drugs used to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure and diabetes. In rare cases, these drugs can cause an allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

    With proper treatment and removal of the drug, prognosis is good.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shortness of breath, swollen face, trouble swallowing, swollen lips, swollen tongue
    Symptoms that never occur with swelling caused by use of an ace inhibitor:
    hives, red swollen bumps or patches with a pale center
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  8. 8.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
  9. 9.Mononucleosis Infection

    EBV Mononucleosis is a clinical syndrome characterized by fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

    2-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (stomach ache), cough
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Swollen Mouth Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate swollen mouth treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • The person has a swollen mouth and face with difficulty breathing. These are symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. There may also be rapid heartbeat, a rash, and a feeling of panic.

Schedule an appointment for:

  • Any unexplained or troublesome lump or swelling, especially if there is pain, fever, or the feeling that the throat is constricted.

Swollen mouth remedies that you can try at home:

  • Take steps to stop smoking and to stop using any chewing tobacco products.
  • Cut down or discontinue drinking alcohol.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by flossing and brushing the teeth and gums.
  • Use approved mouthguards and face masks when playing sports that require them.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Mouth

  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.What part of your mouth is swollen?
  • Q.Does your throat feel itchy or irritated?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?

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

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Swollen Mouth Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced swollen mouth have also experienced:

    • 6% Mouth Pain
    • 5% Sore Throat
    • 5% Mouth Lesions
  • People who have experienced swollen mouth had symptoms persist for:

    • 40% Less Than a Day
    • 38% Less Than a Week
    • 10% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced swollen mouth were most often matched with:

    • 15% Gingivitis
    • 12% Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (Anug)
    • 6% Oral Herpes
  • 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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