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8 Causes of Swollen Jaw

A swollen jaw can be due to many reasons, which can be infections of the throat, and jaw or due to Lyme’s disease and thyroid conditions. The jaw can also look swollen if there is swelling on the face or the surrounding area. The other symptoms can appear depending on the cause.

Causes of Swollen Jaw

Causes of Swollen Jaw

There are numerous causes that can lead to a swollen jaw. These include:

  1. Tonsillitis

    Inflammed tonsils are known as tonsillitis. Tonsils are the two soft pads of tissue that are present at the back of the throat. They prevent harmful bacteria from entering the body through the mouth and nose. Tonsillitis can lead to swelling in the neck that can extend up to the jaw. Other symptoms include:

    Tonsillitis mostly resolves on its own within 3-4 days.(1) Home treatment can also prove to be helpful in easing the symptoms of tonsillitis. Antibiotics can be prescribed by the doctor to treat tonsillitis.

  2. Strep Throat

    Strep throat is the inflammation of the throat and tonsils caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. This infection leads to swelling in the lymph nodes of the neck and jaw. Other common signs and symptoms of strep throat include:(2)

    • Sore throat
    • Pain while swallowing
    • Red, swollen, and pus streaked tonsils
    • Small red spots on the roof of the mouth
    • Fever
    • Nausea

    Some people have no symptoms but test positive for strep throat. This type of infection is unlikely to pass to others and no treatment may be needed. Those with symptoms and positive tests may need treatment. Penicillin and amoxicillin are recommended by doctors. Sometimes other antibiotics can also be prescribed to treat strep throat in those allergic to penicillin.

    Sometimes an abscess develops around the tonsil and if it does not respond to antibiotics, a specialist may need to drain it out.

  3. Peritonsillar Abscess

    Peritonsillar abscess is a pus-filled abscess that develops in between the tonsil and the wall of the throat. The bacteria causing strep throat is responsible for peritonsillar abscess. The abscess can lead to swelling on the face, mostly around the jaw.

    Oral antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. In severe cases, IV antibiotics are used. Some people may not respond to antibiotics and hence an ENT specialist may be needed to drain the abscess.

  4. Viral Infection

    Highly contagious viruses such as measles, mumps, and rubella, all three of these viruses can lead to swelling around the jaw. These viruses were once much common. However, now their occurrence is decreased due to the widespread use of vaccination.(3)

    The symptoms of measles include:

    The symptoms of mumps include:

    The symptoms of rubella include:

    • Fever
    • Rashes
    • Sore throat
    • Itchy and red eyes

    The illness has no specific treatment. The symptoms of measles resolve in 7-10 days. Symptoms of mumps resolve in 1-2 weeks. Rubella’s symptoms resolve in 1 week.

    Home remedies can be helpful in easing the symptoms.

  5. Mononucleosis

    Mononucleosis is also a viral infection that can lead to swelling of the lymph nodes around the neck and jaw. The other symptoms of mononucleosis include:

    • Fever
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue

    The Epstein-Barr virus is its most common cause.(4)

    Just like other viral infections, mononucleosis does not require treatment and the symptoms resolve in 2-4 weeks. The symptoms can be relieved by home remedies.

  6. Lyme Disease

    Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia bacteria. It is carried by ticks and transmitted to humans through bites. This disease leads to circular, target-like rashes around the tick bite. The rash develops within 30 days.(5) The condition progresses and leads to:

  7. Jaw Cyst

    Jaw cysts result from the decayed tooth, broken tooth, and a tooth embedded inside the jaw bone. The cyst grows and may lead to the following symptoms, such as:

    • Numbness and tingling in lips, gums, and teeth
    • Weakening of jawbone
    • Lump or swelling in the jaw
    • Loosening of nearby teeth

    The cyst can be removed with surgery and necessary antibiotics can be given to enhance healing.

  8. Thyroid Nodules

    A thyroid nodule is the development of a nodule in the thyroid gland. Its risk factors include hypothyroidism and iodine deficiency. Mostly thyroid nodule does not cause any symptoms. If symptoms occur, they include:

    • Lump in the neck
    • Tickling sensation in the throat
    • Pain and swelling in the neck, jaw, or ear

    It can be treated with drug therapy, surgery, and radioactive iodine therapy.

    There are numerous causes of the swollen jaw and the treatment depends on the cause. In rare cases, a swollen jaw can be a symptom of cancer. It is therefore important to know the cause and get treated before any of the diseases causing it, progress.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 25, 2022

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