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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Swollen jaw with no pain



I have had a swollen jaw for about 6 months now and have seen 2 doctors and an ENT. First they thought it was a stone in my parotid gland but now the ENT says it may be the muscle around it. I am concerned mainly because there is absolutely no pian. Just a big swollen jaw. I have been to the dentist and my teeth and gums are in great shape, however I do gring in my sleep (with no pain ever). Could this be an indication of a bigger problem? Are there any other things it could be?


Ideally, you should be seen by an oral pathologist for evaluation. What you are describing could be something as harmless as masseteric hypertrophy, a condition in which the masseter muscle (the big muscle on the outside back part of the lower jaw) gets bigger from overuse - sort of like the exaggerated muscles on body builders.

The fact that you are grinding your teeth at night could provide the explanation of why this muscle is bigger - it's simply getting more exercise. The other doctors may not be aware of this diagnosis, however, which is why you should see a specialist in oral disorders. Other less likely causes of enlargement could also be ruled out by the oral pathologist.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University