A swollen gland under jaw can be a cause for worry, but most of the time it is caused by something simple, and will settle down by itself within 2 weeks.
Any time you get a swelling somewhere, it's natural to worry. Last year I had a small lump come up in my arm pit. I was pretty sure it was an infected sweat gland, but I was concerned about it. After 3 days on antibiotics, it had gone down, but it was a worrying time.
A swelling under your jaw is more common, and it should always be taken seriously.
There are 2 possible areas that a swelling under your jaw could be in;
either a true swollen gland - if you are SURE it is the gland that is swollen.
it could also be an abscess from a tooth that is causing the swelling - NOT the gland.
If it really IS the gland that is swollen, it will be what is called the "lymph" gland. There are many lymph glands around the body, and there are some in your neck and under the lower jaw bone.
Your lymph network is part of the human body's defence system against bacteria and virus infections. The glands work by acting as filters; they filter out bacteria and viruses that are circulating in your body before they can set up a full-body infection.
SO, when one of both of the lymph glands under the jaw swell up, it is usually in response to bacteria or viruses that are circulating around in your body. It is not a localised little infection just within the gland. It is a sign that your immune system is fighting something much bigger.
Rarely, swollen lymph nodes are caused by cancer. In this case, the swelling is quite hard, seems to be fixed in position (ie. you can't move the swelling around), and they tend to grow in size quite quickly.
What else could you notice when you have a swollen gland under jaw?
Should you see a doctor?
Most swollen glands under the jaw will settle down within 2 weeks. You can help things along by putting a heat pack on the skin over the swelling, for 5 minutes at a time, and taking anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.
You might want to see your doctor if you notice several of the following occurring together;
As always, if you're having difficulty swallowing or breathing, you should get yourself along to your nearest doctor, Emergency Room or hospital.
Here are some less common causes of lymph gland swelling;
A swollen gland under jaw rarely needs emergency hospital treatment. BUT there are some exceptions; A severely infected lymph gland that needs to be drained, or if you are having severe pain.
If a swollen lymph node in the neck makes breathing or swallowing difficult, seek medical treatment immediately.
Page written by dentist Dr. Richard Mitchell