Why is my cheek swollen, or what causes swollen cheeks? Cheek swelling is a problem that affects both children and adults with a number of causes including infections, tooth problems, trauma, salivary gland infections, and mumps among others. The swelling could be on your inside cheek, on your jaws, neck or even affect eyes. Furthermore, it could be accompanied by a number of symptoms include pain (or no pain), redness, difficulties in chewing, etc. Discover more including treatment and how to reduce cheek swelling.
Cheek swelling refers to enlargement or distention of someone’s cheek and/or lump development that results from “accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the cheeks” [healthgrades.com]. The swelling in the cheek area might be mild, severe, with or without pain i.e. swollen cheek no pain or painful cheek swelling.
Depending on the cause, you could have cheek swelling on one side (i.e. swollen left cheek or right), lower or upper cheek swelling as well as swollen inside cheek (cheeks swelling inside mouth). Sometimes you may have a swollen cheek and swollen neck, gums, jaws, eyes, lips, glands, face or near ear. The swelling might come with other symptoms such as with rash, redness, fever, sore throat, toothache, gum infection or with a sick feeling. It can affects adults as well as children (infants, toddlers or babies).
Symptoms of cheek swelling including red swollen cheeks
- Symptoms of cheek swelling including red swollen cheeks
- Swollen cheek causes or why is my cheek swollen? (Left, right or both).
- 1. Swollen cheek from tooth especially wisdom teeth
- 2. Trauma, cheek piercing swelling, oral surgery or injuries
- 3. Mumps infection and swollen parotid glands
- 4. Allergic reaction
- 5. Lymphadenopathy or swollen lymph node cheek
- 6. Swollen gland in cheek
- 7. Swollen cheek bone
- 8. Swollen cheek due to bulimia nervosa
- 9. Other possible causes of swollen cheek include
- Swollen inside cheek, inner cheek swelling or swollen cheeks inside mouth
- Swollen cheek and gums
- Child swollen cheek (children, toddlers, and babies)
- Swollen cheek and jaw
- Swollen cheek and eye
- Swollen cheek no pain, cheek swelling and pain
- Swollen cheek treatment or how to treat
- How to reduce cheek swelling – Effective and fast remedies
- When to see a doctor
The symptoms that will accompany your cheek swelling will depend on the underlying cause i.e. disorder, disease or condition. Some of the most reported symptoms associated with cheek swelling include hives, rash, cheek redness (red swollen cheeks), face lumps, oily, itchy or dry skin, soreness and pain, fever, itchy eyes, sneezing, breathing problems, numbness (numb jaw and cheek) as well as swelling of other parts of the face including a swollen tongue, eyes or lips.
Swollen cheek causes or why is my cheek swollen? (Left, right or both).
To be able to effectively diagnose, treat, sooth or reduce cheek swelling, you need to know the possible causes of this problem. Of course, there are many cheek swelling causes with the most common ones being:
1. Swollen cheek from tooth especially wisdom teeth
Swollen cheek from tooth is one of the most common causes of not only swelling on cheeks (on the side of tooth problem) but also a swollen face and cheek bones or jaws. Toothache, tooth abscess, impacted 3rd molar, tooth decay or swollen cheek from tooth infection) are known to cause this problem. Poor oral hygiene (not flossing and brushing twice a day) and eating sugary foods can lead to plague formation on your teeth.
When bacteria acts on the plague layer on your teeth, it feeds on the sugars while it produces acids that will corrode your tooth enable leading to tooth decay.
Swollen cheek wisdom tooth
One of the most common cause of cheek swelling from tooth is wisdom teeth problems owing their location. Infections, abscessed tooth, injuries (chipping or breakages) can often result in wisdom teeth cheek swelling.
Tooth abscess swollen cheek or cheek abscess
A Swollen cheek from abscess tooth is a possible phenomenon. According to webmd.com, “an abscessed tooth is a painful infection at the root of a tooth (center of the teeth) or between the gum and a tooth” that is commonly caused by a serious tooth decay. It can also be caused by trauma (such as chipped or broken tooth), gum diseases as well as gingivitis. If ignored tooth dental abscess can cause opening in enamels that will make bacteria go to the tooth pulp and spread to the tooth root and jaw bone i.e. swollen jaw from abscessed tooth.
Some of the common symptoms of abscessed tooth include fever, bitter mouth taste, swollen neck glands, game swelling and redness, swollen lower and upper jaw areas, draining sore on side of gum, sensitivity to cold or hot foods , pain when eating or chewing among others.
In case you have an abscessed tooth, seek for medical help from your dentist and try various home remedies we will discuss later to reduce the pain.
Swollen cheek toothache
Toothache caused by any of the problems mentioned including abscessed teeth, tooth infection or decay can also result to enlargement of cheeks especially on the side that has a tooth problem. Usually the cheek swelling is accompanied with some pain from the aching tooth.
Tooth extraction, removal and root canal procedures
Dental work such as tooth extraction (i.e. swollen cheek after tooth extraction especially wisdom tooth), root canal procedure, and dental cosmetic surgery can lead a swelling of cheeks. The swelling, pain and discomfort should disappear after a few days.
2. Trauma, cheek piercing swelling, oral surgery or injuries
Another possible cause of a swollen cheek is injuries, oral surgery or trauma. It is normal to have a swollen cheek and jaw from a punch or being hit by an object, after undergoing oral surgical procedure, after rhinoplasty, cheek piercing, or due to other traumas or injuries on your cheeks. The swelling will be accompanied with pain, bleeding, redness and bruising depending on how much your cheek tissues are damaged or hurt.
Usually, the affected area is the one that will swell i.e. you could have a swollen left cheek or right depending on where the trauma is. The swelling will subside with time. To help reduce the swelling and pain, try various home remedies such as cold compresses or over the counter pain relievers.
3. Mumps infection and swollen parotid glands
At times, “cheek swelling may be related to a condition such as mumps” [healthgrades.com], otherwise known as epidemic parotitis. Beside possible swollen cheek and neck area, this viral infection has other symptoms such “a few days of fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, and is followed by swelling of salivary glands” [cdc.gov] i.e. one or both the parotid glands will be swollen. Mumps symptoms will occur after 16-18 days of exposure and they might last up to 7-10 days.
4. Allergic reaction
Allergic reaction to food, pet dander, medications, face makeup, and other allergens is a possible cause cheek and eyes, nose, face, tongue or lip swelling. Allergic reactions are often accompanied with other symptoms such as hives, itching, a rash, watery eyes, nasal congestion among others.
5. Lymphadenopathy or swollen lymph node cheek
Sometimes you might have swelling cheeks due to swollen lymph nodes in front of your ear. You will tend to have swollen cheeks near the ears as well as neck. Swollen lymph nodes can be due teeth infection, cancer among other infections.
6. Swollen gland in cheek
Your cheeks could swell due to swollen salivary glands i.e. swollen parotid glands in cheek (in case of swollen cheeks near ear or swollen upper cheek), swollen submandibular glands (if you have swelling on your lower cheeks below or lower jaws or near the jawline), or sublingual glands (which are behind your tongue but in front of submandibular glands).
Swollen salivary glands could be caused by a number of bacterial or viral infections that result to swelling and inflammation. The common causes of salivary gland swelling include HIV, mumps, salivary stones, tumor, Sjogren’s syndrome, malnutrition, influenza A, poor hygiene and dehydration.
Sometimes, when your salivary gland ducts are obstructed by stones or sialolithiasis, you might end up with cheeks that are swollen. This is another cause of swelling of cheek with is associated with salivary glands.
On what to do with swollen salivary glands in cheek, you need to treat the underlying cause. This means you need a diagnosis before medications or treatment options can be explored since there are many causes of inflamed and/or swollen glands.
7. Swollen cheek bone
Sometimes, your cheek swelling could be as a result of swollen cheekbone. You could be suffering from a cheekbones that are swollen from injury (e.g. from a punch), sinus, salivary gland infection, tooth infection, tooth extraction, among other causes. The swelling could be on both sides, one side top or lower jaws and it could be sore and painful or hurt when you lie on the affected side.
8. Swollen cheek due to bulimia nervosa
This is an “eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging, or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed (purging)” [Wikipedia.org] mainly through vomiting, excessive exercise, use of laxative diuretic, since the victim is so much concerned with weight gain.
The uncontrollable rapid eating, gastric reflux after eating tend to erode teeth, cause swollen salivary glands and cheeks i.e. “swollen cheeks and salivary glands” [helpguide.org]. Behavioral change, antidepressants, physiological therapies and stress management can help deal with bulimia.
9. Other possible causes of swollen cheek include
- Cystic acne – cystic acne on your cheeks can make your cheeks to swell especially on the side of cheek that has cystic acne.
- Boils or skin abscess – These are “localized infection in the skin that begins as a reddened, tender area.” [medicinenet.com] that result to formation of pus under the skin.
- Skin growth and keloids – keloids are formed from excess scar tissue formation and they are usually painless. Other growths can also make your cheeks to swell (and be either painful or without pain).
- Cellulitis – This is a common bacterial skin infection that makes the skin to swell, become red, and feel tender and warm (or hot). Cellulitis on your cheek can make it swell.
- Sinus swelling in cheek – Some times, serious sinusitis especially maxillary sinusitis might result in a swelling on cheeks. This will accompanied with symptoms such as cheekbone pain, tender, swollen and red cheekbone, nasal discharge and fever.
- Side effects of some medication e.g. some people have swollen cheek and gums after novocaine (novacain).
- Ingrown hairs
- Sebaceous cysts
- Salivary glands, oral or skin cancer
- Hereditary angioedema
- Canker sores on your inner cheek
Swollen inside cheek, inner cheek swelling or swollen cheeks inside mouth
Sometimes, you might have swollen inside cheek or inner cheek swelling. This can be caused by most of causes we have already mentioned such as tooth problems (decay and infection), canker sores, swollen salivary glands, mouth sores, cheek biting, trauma, infections (bacterial or viral), tooth abscess, lymph node problems (especially the preauricular, submandibular lymph nodes and tonsilar), mumps, among other causes.
Furthermore, various procedures such as tooth feeling, oral surgery, tooth extraction, cheek piercing, among others can also result in swollen cheek inside mouth especially the surrounding tissue.
Cheek swollen from inside of mouth can affect children (toddlers or babies) as well as adults and it can make the cheeks numb, extend to your jaws, or be near your wisdom teeth (in case of wisdom tooth extraction or infections). Treatment for swollen inner cheek will depend on the underlying cause.
Swollen cheek and gums
Swollen cheek and gums could be due to any of the causes mentioned such as infected tooth (tooth abscess or tooth decay), tooth extraction (especially wisdom tooth), after root canal, blunt trauma, oral cancer, etc.
Furthermore, gum problems especially gingivitis, teething syndrome, herpes stomatitis, parulis, periodontal disease, malnutrition, badly fitting dentures, as well as other viral or fungal infections. Furthermore, pericoronitis (a dental disorder that makes gum tissue around wisdom teeth, to be swollen) has been found to result into a swollen gum and cheek.
The cheek swelling and gums (or swollen between cheek and gum) could cause a numbing feeling, be sore and make chewing painful (swollen cheek gum pain) and difficult. To reduce swelling in cheek from gum infection, try sucking ice (cold compress), use over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, swishing sea salt and water mixture as well as treat the underlying cause (disease or condition).
Child swollen cheek (children, toddlers, and babies)
In children, this problem can be due to bone fracture, allergic reaction, infection, infected salivary glands, tooth abscess, after teeth filling, some gum infections, mumps among other infections. The swelling might make the cheeks red, cause tooth pain, and it could also extend to the jaws and neck depending on the cause.
Swollen cheek and jaw
A swollen cheek and jaw including jawline or neck area can be caused by any of the causes of cheek swelling we have already discussed. It could be accompanied with pain or no pain or cause numbness depending on underlying cause.
Common causes include blunt trauma, dental works, oral surgery, corrective jaw surgeries, chin surgery, tooth problems, salivary gland infections among others. They could affect both your cheeks and jaws, right or left jaws.
Swollen cheek and eye
Sometimes cheek swelling can be accompanied with swollen eyes i.e. swollen cheek and eye (either right or left cheek and swollen under eyes or eyelids) especially if caused by allergies. However, eye problems such as swollen eyes can also cause swelling on cheeks. Ensure you get the right diagnosis.
Swollen cheek no pain, cheek swelling and pain
Not all edemas are accompanied with pain always. It is normal to cheek swelling with no pain or mild pain or slight pain. A painless cheek swelling could be on either your inner cheek, upper or lower cheek. Sometimes, cysts, dental abscess, allergic reactions, swelling due to malnutrition, etc. might not cause any pain.
However, in some instances, swelling is accompanied with some pain (red inflamed cheeks that are swollen). In such a case, you need to go for the over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs as well as apply cold compresses to reduce inflammation and swelling.
Swollen cheek treatment or how to treat
Swollen cheek treatment option will depend on the underlying cause. In case you do not know it, you should seek medical attention for diagnosis and prescription of the right medications. Common treatments for swelling of cheeks include:
- Drugs and medicines – These might include antibiotics, antivirals, anti-inflammatory (over the counter) or other prescribed medications depending on what is behind your swelling whose intention is to reduce pain and offer swollen tooth infection treatment (if infected)
- Antihistamines – if your swelling is caused by an allergic reaction, you need to use antihistamines and avoid the allergens.
- Home remedies – you can also try a number of home remedies to reduce swelling and sooth the swelling. We will cover home remedies while looking at how to reduce cheek swelling.
How to reduce cheek swelling – Effective and fast remedies
Besides treatments, there are other cheek swelling home treatment or remedies that can help treat mild infections, reduce pain and prevent any further infections especially while the infections are still in their early stages. Some of these treatments will be good for people with swollen teeth from toothache, oral surgery, after wisdom tooth removal, after piercing, from blunt trauma, among other causes.
Cold compress or warm compresses
For mild swelling caused by trauma such as dental work (root canal, tooth extraction, teeth filling, rhinoplasty, oral surgery, piercing, blunt trauma, etc.), you can apply warm or cold compresses.
For cold compress, use of ice or cold compress will also cause a numbing effect that will alleviate pain and discomfort. Do not apply ice directly, wrap it in a piece of clean cloth or buy ice packs to avoid tissue damage. Let the compress remain in place for 20 minutes.
1. Applying potato slices
Apply potato slices on your cheek for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a day. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
2. Eat soft food, avoid hot beverages and reduce salt intake
Eating crisps or hard foods might exert pressure on your tooth and worsen the cheek swelling. Instead eat soft foods. Furthermore, do not take hot beverages. Too much salt intake can cause face and cheek swelling.
3. Other ways to reduce or get rid of cheek swelling
- Keep good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth to remove any food particles trapped on your teeth. This will reduce chances of teeth infection or decay that can cause a swollen cheek.
- Rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm water and sea salt (1/2 teaspoon in 8 ounces of water).
When to see a doctor
If you have severe and sudden cheek swelling that comes with swollen lips, face or tongue as well as severe breathing difficulties (including labored breathing, wheezing, choking, breath shortness), ensure you see a doctor or seek for emergency treatment since such a case may be as a result of serious allergic reaction that could be life threatening.
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Sources and references