Swelling: A Sign to See Your Dentist

 If you notice swelling in your mouth or jaw, call us right away for an appointment. Oral swelling is almost always caused by an infection of a tooth or the gums. If an infected tooth is the culprit, it usually means there’s a deep cavity allowing bacteria to infect the nerves and blood vessels within the tooth. Without treatment, the infection will spread to the tissues and eventually form an abscess. Abscesses also spread – to the jawbone and cheek. And the longer an abscess is left untreated, the more the swelling will spread. A gum infection can also cause swelling when plaque and debris get trapped under the gum line. This almost always occurs in people with pre-existing gum disease. In either case, swelling is not something to take lightly; it requires immediate professional attention.

Swelling caused by an infected tooth will be treated with either root canal therapy, to remove the infected nerves, or with an extraction. In most cases, it’s preferable to save the tooth with root canal therapy rather than remove it. For gum infections, we can clean under the gum line to treat the infection.

Before your dental visit, try rinsing with warm salt water (8 oz. of water with 1 tsp. of salt) every two hours to bring some of the swelling down. You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen, or a topical ointment like Orajel® to help with the pain.