Mouth swelling can be an aggravating and potentially painful symptom for many people. There are several potential causes for mouth swelling, including infection, a tumor, or an allergic reaction. Treatment options will vary based on the direct cause of the swelling. Common treatment options include the use of an antibiotic or antihistamine, or in the event of a tumor, surgical intervention may be necessary. Typically, a dentist will be able to diagnose and treat most cases of mouth swelling.
Dental infections are perhaps the most common causes of mouth swelling. These infections usually involve some degree of pain along with the swelling. Dental infections may be caused by tooth decay, abscesses, or gum irritation. As is the case with most infections, dental infections are typically treated with prescription antibiotics. In some cases, pain medications will also be prescribed.
Angioedema, a specific type of allergic reaction, is a relatively common cause of oral swelling as well. This reaction is often a response to a particular medication, though the cause remains unknown in some cases. Treatment may involve discontinuing the medication that caused the reaction or changing to a different medication. Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines are often helpful as well. Allergic reactions can be potentially life-threatening and should be treated as medical emergencies.
An electrolyte imbalance is another possible cause of mouth and facial swelling. Electrolytes are specialized salts that carry electrical impulses throughout the body. Certain medical conditions, including kidney disease, are prone to causing electrolyte imbalances. Treatment for this condition relies on finding and treating the cause of the imbalance.
Other conditions that may lead to oral swelling include heart failure or a condition known as venous thrombosis. Venous thrombosis is the medical term for a blood clot located in a vein. For these conditions, the patient will likely be referred to a cardiologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the circulatory system. Problems with the lymphatic system may also be the problem; in which case, the patient may wish to visit a specialist known as an endocrinologist.
In some cases, a tumor located somewhere in the head may be responsible for mouth swelling. A dentist can often find the tumor through a combination of x-rays and physical examination, but the patient will likely be sent to a surgeon for further evaluation. The tumor may be able to be treated with medications, though surgical removal is more common, especially if the tumor is large or causes problems when breathing or swallowing.