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A 30-year-old female asked:

how can you tell the difference between facial swelling caused by tmj and swelling caused by problems with salivary (parotid) glands?

5 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. John DeWolf
Dentistry 40 years experience
Anatomy: The TMJ capsule is right in front of the ear and the parotid gland is nearby but in a different location. A trip to the dentist would be a good start to help make the distinction and determine what is actually swollen.
Dr. Fernando Juliao
Dentistry 30 years experience
Different areas : Get evaluated by your dentist! these areas are fairly close together, and it is difficult to describe this online. But usually , TMJ is from tight/sore muscles when you open or close your mouth and or pain close to your ear.
Dr. David Mjos
Dr. David Mjos commented
Dentistry 44 years experience
Usually there is no swelling with TMJ. Muscle mass may increase in the case of an extreme bruxer (grinding).
Oct 15, 2013
Dr. John Scuba
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 25 years experience
Facial swelling: Tmj facial swelling is quite rare even with advanced TMJ disease. The joint is deep and beneath the skull base encased in a very dense capsule making expansion onto the face unlikely. The glands and parotid in particular are quite a bit less "encased" and any inflammatory or other cause of swelling is usually more visible. Often overlooked other causes (ie wisdom teeh ) require an exam.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
great answer!!
Mar 22, 2015
Dr. William Jakavick
Cosmetic Dentistry 37 years experience
Swelling source: Many times TMJ will cause more pain with little selling and glandular things can cause more swelling with less pain, although some will be painful, so if you are experience facial swelling TMJ is probably one of the last considerations as a cause.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Great answer!!
Mar 22, 2015
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Not TMJ: Rare to have swelling from TMJ. More likely other surrounding structures like parotid. See ENT doc for exam.

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Last updated May 19, 2016

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