ZocdocAnswersToothache, antibiotics and then swollen jaw. What should I do?

Question

Toothache, antibiotics and then swollen jaw. What should I do?

I've had an abscess on hm wisdom tooth for over a year and finally went to a dentist because I was in extreme pain and unable to sleep or eat for a week. I was prescribed amoxicillin for 10 days. On about day 8 I noticed a swelling under my jaw bone to what I can only assume to be my lymph node. Is this normal? Should I be worried? I saw untreated abscesses can infect your jaw bone. What should I do from here?

Answer

Sorry to hear that you have been having problems with you wisdom tooth. You are right in suggesting that the swelling underneath your jaw could potentially be a lymph node. However, there are numerous other things that it could be, including an abscess of the soft tissues around the tooth. That is why it is important to be evaluated by your physician. These soft tissue abscesses can progress fairly rapidly and can be very dangerous (particularly if the infection is on the lingual (or tongue side) of the jaw bone. A thorough exam of the areas should be able to tell if the lump is a lymph node, or an abscess (infected fluid collection). Your physician may also choose to do a CT (computed tomography x-ray) scan which can give valuable information as to whether there is a fluid collection or not. If there is a fluid collection, it will likely need to be drained surgically. I recommend that you either go back to your dentist, or go to an otolaryngologist (ears nose throat physician) to get evaluated. If it is a lymph node, you may be put on a longer course of antibiotics to clear up the infection. If you have any problems breathing, or you notice any change in your voice, then you should go directly to the emergency department to get evaluated.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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