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Should you see a Dentist for Facial Swelling?

When most people hear the word ‘dentist,’ they immediately think of issues with the teeth and gums. However, you may be surprised to learn that your dentist is the best person to help if you have facial swelling or discomfort. This is because facial swelling is often times a signal of concerning oral health issues. 

So if you wake up to a swollen face or mouth, you need to get yourself to an emergency dentist immediately. Keep reading to find out why it is important to seek immediate dental attention for facial swelling and what to expect during the visit.

Causes of Facial Swelling

Facial swelling may occur for a number of reasons, and most of these reasons usually require immediate medical attention. During your visit to an emergency dentist, your symptoms will be assessed to determine the source of the swelling. 

Common causes of facial swelling include;

Salivary Gland Infection

When the salivary (parotid) glands, which are located in the cheeks, become infected, they tend to swell and cause you extreme pain. These infections are usually caused by bacteria, however, in some cases, it could be a result of either a sinus infection or a decrease in saliva production. If the latter is the source of the swelling, your dentist may then refer you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

Tooth Abscess

An abscessed tooth is another common cause of facial swelling. It occurs when bacteria enter the pulp (where the blood vessels and nerves are located) of your tooth and cause an infection. In addition to swelling, other symptoms of a tooth abscess include; severe pain around the affected area, tooth sensitivity, fever, and a bitter taste in the mouth. A tooth abscess needs to be treated immediately to prevent the infection from spreading throughout the face and to other parts of the body.

When to see a Dentist

If the swelling is minor and infrequent, then you can hold off on seeing your dentist till your next dental appointment. However, you need to see your dentist immediately if you experience: swelling that is persistent, pain that does not go away or improve after 3 days, and worsening pain that comes with other issues like headaches or migraines.

What you can Expect During Your Visit

During your emergency visit, your dentist will start by performing an oral exam to assess your symptoms and diagnose the root cause of the swelling. X-rays might also be necessary to get more information on what’s going on in your mouth. If you have a tooth abscess, your dentist will first remove the bacteria before proceeding to clean the affected area and placing a crown over the damaged tooth. This will help prevent further infection. 

For a salivary gland infection, the dentist might prescribe some antibiotics and if necessary, remove part of the glands.


Facial swelling should never be ignored, as it could be a signal of worrisome oral health issues. Don’t assume that facial swelling or discomfort will improve on its own. Be proactive and seek help from a dentist. This way, you can avoid a potentially severe or life-threatening situation.


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