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Tooth Swelling: Causes And How To Relieve Discomfort

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Have you ever felt swelling in your teeth and gums? Swollen teeth can be painful and potentially serious, as it’s often the result of a bacterial infection. Here, we’ll look into what causes tooth swelling, what to do if you’re experiencing it, and how to relieve your discomfort.

It’s worth noting that you should reach out to your dental professional immediately if you’re experiencing any signs of tooth swelling. If you can’t get in touch with your dental professional, and your tooth swelling is accompanied by a fever and swelling in your face, visit the emergency room.

Potential Causes of Tooth and Gum Swelling

Whether your case is mild or severe, it could be due to one of the following causes:

Tooth abscess:  A tooth abscess, which results from a bacterial infection, can occur at the tip of the root (periapical) or on the side of the tooth’s root (periodontal). The abscesses are filled with pus and are typically due to a cavity, injury, or dental work, as cracks provide pathways for bacteria to enter and infect the tooth. Symptoms of tooth abscesses include:

  • A throbbing toothache that you may feel in your neck, ear, or jawbone
  • Swollen lymph nodes near your jaw or in your neck
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Swelling in your face and neck
  • Sensitivity to biting or chewing

Having a painful, swollen infection is no fun. If you’re wondering how to treat an abscess or even how to get rid of a swollen face from a tooth infection, you need to seek medical treatment. Even if the abscess drains on its own, you still need to visit your dentist to ensure the infection doesn’t spread. Their treatment will involve addressing the infection, which means draining the abscess. They may prescribe antibiotics as well. In some cases, they may need to remove the tooth or perform a root canal.

Wisdom teeth irritation: The growth and eruption of wisdom teeth is a natural process. Sometimes, however, this change can cause teeth swelling. Wisdom teeth may cause swelling if they’re impacted, meaning the teeth are trapped under your gums. If the wisdom teeth break through, they may create spaces where bacteria can infect the gums, leading to swelling and pain. 

You may be wondering how to treat swollen gums near the wisdom tooth, and the answer is usually removal. Following wisdom teeth removal, swelling may again be noticeable in the gum and teeth regions as your mouth heals. To relieve some discomfort and fight any bacteria, be sure to rinse your mouth with warm salt water every few hours. Ice packs against the side of your mouth can also ease the pain. If your swelling feels like it’s serious and requires medical attention, reach out to your dental professional immediately.

Gingivitis: Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease. This condition is a common cause of puffy, red, irritated gums that may bleed after you brush your teeth. Luckily, gingivitis can be addressed at home with excellent oral care, limiting sugary snack snacks and drinks, and stopping tobacco use. However, if you’re experiencing gingivitis symptoms, you should still reach out to your dental professional for a thorough examination and treatment. 

Vitamin C Deficiency: Did you know that the disease scurvy, made famous by sailors, is just a term for a Vitamin C deficiency? Lack of Vitamin C can cause swelling around the teeth. Luckily, a solution is to eat more delicious citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. Vitamin C supplements can also help. If you think you may have a Vitamin C deficiency, talk to your dental and medical professionals, as they can determine how much you should add to your diet. 

Medications and Other Causes: Certain medications can also have side effects of tooth swelling. If you notice that your toothpaste or mouthwash irritates your teeth and gums, stop using it until you see your healthcare provider.

Treatment and Pain Relief for Tooth Swelling

If you’re experiencing swelling, the first step is to reach out to your dental professional. They’ll be able to determine the cause of your swollen gums and teeth and recommend the best treatment. At home, however, you can gargle warm salt water, which will help rinse away bacteria. Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can also help reduce swelling and soreness. 

Your mouth is full of bacteria, and even the most dedicated teeth brushers may develop a swollen tooth. That being said, excellent oral care is still crucial to preventing swelling in your mouth. That means brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth daily with floss, water flossers, or another interdental cleaning device. 

Unlike a bruise or mild cut on your skin, swelling inside your mouth near your teeth can be a severe issue, and you should address it as such. Dentists can prescribe antibiotics and medications that will not only treat the pain but target the infection. Plus, the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can eliminate your tooth swelling pain and get back to having a healthy, confident, pain-free smile. 

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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