What causes swelling
Swellings of the mouth, face, jaw and neck can be caused in various ways, such as allergic reactions, injury, medicine-related, gum infections, an infected tooth, a partly visible wisdom tooth, or an infected or blocked saliva gland.
Swellings are normally the result of your body trying to fight an infection. Your body sends fluid, blood and special cells to the problem site to fight what it perceives as a threat. If the cause of the infection isn’t treated the inflammatory response can result in pain, bleeding or pus build-up. Some body structures can get destroyed in the process; gums can get eaten away, bone destroyed, tooth roots absorbed.
Wisdom teeth that are stuck and won’t come into the mouth in their normal position may have some gum covering the tooth. For a variety of reasons this flap of gum can get swollen and so inflamed and painful that it might feel like the tooth is bad or the whole jaw aches. A dentist can diagnose the cause and offer treatment options for this condition.
Some swellings can happen in the lips after an injury. If one of the many glands gets injured, its contents can leak and appear like a blue bubble. These are not dangerous and may either subside or require surgery.
Most dental swellings can be treated by a dentist once the cause is established. Antibiotics are not always prescribed but may be needed if the infection is significant. The dentist will always check if the swelling or infection is spreading to other parts of the face, jaw or neck. Infection can spread rapidly from a tooth abscess through the fascial spaces between muscles and structures in the face and neck. Certain pathways of spread reach the brain or heart.
Some rare disorders in the jaws may cause swelling in the bone that you can see or feel. There are benign swellings of the jaw and others that require urgent diagnosis and multidisciplinary medical treatment. Some can occur even in young people.
Swellings due to infection in certain areas can be life-threatening. If you have a large or worsening swelling in the mouth, face, jaw or neck, even if you don’t feel unwell or don’t have a fever, it is very important that you seek immediate medical attention.
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