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What a Lump on the Jawline Could Indicate

If you've noticed a lump along your jawline, many conditions could be the culprit. If the swelling or lump cannot be cannot be attributed to an allergic reaction, injury or insect bite, then please visit for physician or dentist. Is the lump small or large, soft or firm, mobile or fixed, painless or tender? Any treatment will depend on the cause, so keep reading to learn more about lumps on the jawline.

What Causes a Lump on the Jawline?

A bump, mass, or swollen area along the jawline might cause a fright. However, the lump could indicate many harmless or easily treatable conditions — from something as simple as an insect sting, to something as common as a swollen lymph node. Tumours — both cancerous and benign — are rarer but should always be ruled out by a medical provider. Read on to find out more about these common causes for jawline lumps:

Abscessed Tooth

An abscess is a build-up of pus that develops as a result of infection, usually from an untreated cavity. The harmful bacteria reach the blood vessels and nerves in the tooth's inner chamber, infecting the pulp canal system. A tooth fracture, severe trauma, or problems with an existing root canal can also lead to an abscessed tooth. The abscess can cause significant swelling, forming a lump along your jawline. The onset of the swelling is usually rapid and severely painful.

Treatment: If you suspect you have an abscess, make an appointment with your dentist immediately to examine the tooth. Treatment usually requires extraction or a root canal. Your dentist might also drain the area and prescribe antibiotics for the infection.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

A movable lump on your jawbone could indicate a swollen lymph node. These small, bean-like structures are part of your immune system, forming a network around your body to help protect your body from infections. You have several lymph nodes located in your head and neck, including under the jaw and chin. When your lymph nodes swell, it usually signals the presence of an infection, such as the cold, flu, ear infection, sinus infection, strep throat, and more. An abscessed tooth can also cause a swollen lymph node. The swollen lymph node can vary in size and might feel tender when you touch it, chew, or turn your head.

Treatment: You will need to treat the underlying infection to reduce your lymph node swelling. Your dentist or physician might prescribe an antibiotic or antiviral medication or an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to treat the inflammation. Severe cases might require the lymph nodes to be drained of pus.

Cysts or Benign Tumours

Other non-cancerous growths might also cause a lump to appear along your jawline. Cysts are sacs filled with fluid or other matter, while benign tumours are masses formed when cells divide at an abnormal rate. Though they are generally pain-free to the touch, these cysts and tumours can cause discomfort when they grow and put pressure on nearby structures. Cysts and tumours cannot infect neighboring tissue or spread throughout the body.

Treatment: Your dental professional or physician will most likely recommend surgical removal of a cyst or tumour, which might also include removing nearby teeth, jawbone, or other tissue. A pathologist will examine the removed growth to assess whether it is benign or malignant (cancerous). Depending on the growth's size and impact, you might also require surgery to reconstruct the jawbone or other parts of the mouth.


Cancerous lumps can also form along the jawbone. Though these cancerous growths are more likely to affect older adults, they can appear at any age. The lumps usually feel hard and are not tender or painful to the touch. Cancer can cause a lump to form near your chin in several ways:

  • By affecting a nearby organ, such as the mouth, throat, thyroid, or salivary glands.
  • By spreading from a different organ to the lymph nodes.
  • Through non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • Through sarcoma or lymphoma.

Treatment: If you are diagnosed with a cancerous tumour, your physician might recommend chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery to remove the lump. Your health, the type of cancer, and its progress will all inform your treatment plan.

Other Causes

Other causes of a lump on the jawline could include:

  • Injury or trauma to the jaw
  • Salivary duct stones
  • Acne
  • Insect sting or bite

When Should You See a Doctor for a Lump Under the Jawline?

In some cases, a lump along the jawline will go away on its own. Contact your dentist or physician immediately if the lump is:

  • Painful
  • Growing
  • Unexplained
  • Present for more than two weeks
  • Accompanied by weight loss or fever
  • Causing difficulty breathing or swallowing

Your dentist might refer you to an oral surgeon, oral pathologist, or head and neck surgeon for further examination.

Sometimes jaw lumps cannot be prevented. However, you can practice good oral hygiene to help prevent abscessed teeth. You can also reduce your risk of oral cancer through lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and minimizing alcohol consumption. Seeing your dentist at least twice a year can also help identify any problems as early as possible.

Before you begin to worry, check for the warning signs listed above, and make an appointment to see your dentist. They can help identify the cause and create a treatment plan so your jawline returns to normal as quickly as possible.