Unexplained Swollen Face? Visit Your Emergency Dentist

woman holding cheek for facial swelling needs to see her emergency dentist


If you have swelling in your face or cheek, it could be a sign of a major dental problem. In these cases, it’s important to see an emergency dentist right away. Dental emergencies can cause a lot of symptoms that interfere with your life and can also cause issues that create lasting damage. Let’s talk about when to visit your dentist for facial swelling. 

Talk to Your Emergency Dentist about Facial and Cheek Swelling: It Could be a Dental Emergency

emergency dentist showing dental x-rays to patient
Your emergency dentist can help diagnose dental and oral health issues that may cause swelling in your mouth or face.

Swelling is a sign of injury or infection in your body. Swelling is your body’s way of increasing blood flow and white blood cells to help with healing and fighting off germs. Therefore, if you’re experiencing swelling, you’re likely experiencing some type of health issue. In many cases, swelling in the face and cheek may be caused by an oral health issue that your emergency dentist can address. Here are some common dental and oral health problems that can cause facial swelling:

Tooth and Gum Abscesses

Abscesses are pockets of infection and pus that can happen anywhere in the body, including in the mouth. You can get an abscess in the gums or even in the inner area of the tooth, known as the pulp. If you have a dental abscess, it can cause many symptoms, including pain, pus drainage, bad taste in the mouth, foul odor from the mouth, swelling in the gums and face, as well as other symptoms like fever and chills. 

Untreated dental abscesses can lead to many serious consequences, including tooth loss and damage to the jaw bone. Infections from a dental abscess can also spread to other parts of your body, including the brain, sinus, and even the blood. These complications can quickly turn life-threatening. Therefore, you should address suspected abscesses right away. Your family dentist can help drain and clean dental abscesses and provide ongoing treatment, such as prescribing antibiotics. 

Salivary Gland Blockage or Infection

Issues with your salivary glands can also cause swelling in the face and cheeks. Your salivary glands are located in the cheeks just in front of the ear and are responsible for creating the saliva you need for good oral health. However, salivary glands can become blocked or infected, causing many issues. 

Salivary gland blockages are usually due to salivary stones. These are calcium deposits that develop in the salivary gland and can reduce saliva production and cause pain, swelling, and may even lead to infections. 

Salivary gland infections are commonly due to an overgrowth of bacteria in the salivary glands. These infections can also cause decreased saliva, tenderness and redness, swelling in the face and cheeks, fluid or pus drainage, as well as fever and chills. Treatment typically depends on the severity of the infection. For some, treatment might include warm compresses, massaging the gland, and drinking lemon water to help stimulate saliva. Other cases may need antibiotics or even oral surgery.


Pericoronitis is another dental health issue that can cause facial swelling. This is an infection of a tooth that hasn’t fully erupted. This generally causes inflammation in the gum and can lead to major swelling in the gums, jaw, and face. Typically this develops around the wisdom teeth later in life. In these cases, your dentist in Katy, TX may recommend irrigating the area to help flush out food and bacteria. Treatment may also include antibiotics to help clear the infection. In addition, you may need wisdom tooth extraction to help prevent further issues, like recurring infections, difficulty chewing, and tooth movement.

Infections from Severe Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection where bacteria infiltrates the gums and causes inflammation. In the early stages, you might notice that your gums bleed when brushing your teeth, persistent bad breath, or tender gums. As it progresses, gums may pull away from the teeth and even cause loose teeth or changes in your  bite. With severe gum disease, you might experience swollen gums. While less common, you can also experience facial swelling for severe gum disease. Treatment from your emergency dentist may include deep cleaning in the pockets around your teeth. Other treatments include topical or oral antibiotics or even surgical treatments.

Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a yeast infection in the mouth that can also cause swelling in the cheeks, face, and mouth. It happens when the fungus Candida albicans, which naturally lives in your mouth, overgrows and causes symptoms. Some common symptoms of oral thrush include swelling, white or yellow patches in the mouth, soreness or burning in the mouth, bad taste in the mouth, and even loss of taste. Your family dentist may prescribe antifungal medications to help treat oral thrush, which typically goes away within a couple of weeks of beginning the medications. Untreated, oral thrush can spread to areas of your body and can cause infections in the blood, heart, eyes, or even the brain.

Trauma to the Mouth

One of the most common reasons for facial swelling is trauma. If you took a blow to the face, you might experience facial swelling. In some cases, you may need to see your emergency dentist after trauma to the mouth. For example, if you have broken, loose, or lost teeth, you should get dental care as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can cause permanent tooth loss, quite a lot of pain, and even cuts inside the mouth if a broken tooth leaves a jagged edge. Treatments vary based on your individual circumstances, but may include tooth reattachment, dental crowns, dental bonding, or even dental implants. 

When to Visit the ER Instead of Your Emergency Dentist

In some cases, you may need to visit an emergency room instead of your family dentist for facial swelling. There are many urgent medical issues that can cause facial swelling. Any time you think you may be experiencing a life-threatening medical issue, it’s better to be safe than sorry and go to the emergency room. 

Some medical emergencies that can cause facial swelling include anaphylaxis, allergies, severe injuries, concussions/brain injuries, and broken bones in the face or jaw.  Some signs you may need to visit your local emergency room instead of your emergency dentist include:

  • Severe pain
  • Severe swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Symptoms that worsen quickly

These symptoms can indicate a life-threatening medical issue that often requires help from an emergency room.

Your Katy, TX Emergency Dentist at The ToothBooth

When you need a dentist in Katy, TX, our team at The ToothBooth is here for you. We are dedicated to providing quality dental care for the whole family. Our dentist, Dr. Nawar Taha DDS, is a highly experienced dentist offering general, cosmetic, and specialized services to keep your smile healthy. Call us today at (832) 437-0841 to make an appointment!