Oral and Facial Swelling

What May Cause Oral or Facial Swelling?

  • Severe inflammatory response to virus or bacteria
  • Infection- most commonly caused by teeth
  • Allergy or hypersensitivity
  • Abnormal mass related to pathology
  • Bleeding in the form of a hematoma- this may occur following surgery or trauma.
  • Contusion or a simple bruise from trauma
  • Jaw fractures or other injuries related to trauma

How do I know if swelling is from infection?

  • Pain may be in one area or radiating in different directions
  • Warmth over the skin
  • Redness over the skin
  • Drainage of pus inside the mouth or on the face
  • Pain from a tooth or other sources preceding the swelling
  • Possible difficulty opening mouth
  • ‘Gum boil’- a small pimple-looking swelling over gum tissue

Managing Pain and Swelling from Infection:

If you are experiencing facial or gum tissue swelling with possible drainage of pus or difficulty opening mouth:

  • Take 400-600 mg ibuprofen (2-3 tablets of Advil) or 500-1000 mg of Tylenol every four to six hours.
  • Call your dentist immediately for evaluation or referral to an oral surgeon.
  • Begin antibiotic therapy immediately. If you cannot see an oral surgeon right away, ask your dentist to prescribe antibiotics and pain medication.
  • Extractions should be done as soon as possible, before the infection spreads and involves other areas of face with potentially life-threatening consequences. It is not necessary to be on antibiotics for a few days before surgery, as the condition can worsen quickly. This approach is outdated and no longer recommended.
  • Do not apply ice. It does not improve swelling caused by infection.
  • Do not place a heat pack on the face as it can draw the pus from the infection towards the skin and cause scarring.

Appropriate Antibiotics for Oral and facial Infections:

The following are the most appropriate antibiotics for managing oral and facial infections. The choice is based on the diagnosis and the source of infection. Therefore, it is important that you see an oral surgeon for proper evaluation and diagnosis before starting antibiotics. The wrong antibiotics may not resolve the infection, and it can continue to spread and cause more injury.

  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Augmentin
  • Keflex
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Azithromycin
  • Flagyl in combination with Penicillin