Believe it or not, your earaches could be a TMJ issue. Many people simply assume they suffer from chronic ear infections when in fact they are dealing with temporomandibular joint problems.
What does ear pain from TMJ disorder feel like?
Of course, every patient may manifest symptoms differently but the following are some of the most commonly experienced issues:
- Ear pain when speaking, chewing or swallowing
- Ear infection
- Tinnitus or ringing or other noises in the ears
- Aching, dull pain
- A feeling of fullness within the eustachian tubes (the tubes that equalize pressure in the ear and connect the middle ear to the upper portion of the throat)
Instead of merely brushing off these symptoms as some viral ear infection or something you may have picked up from swimming lessons, it is vital to see your doctor to determine the underlying cause. If you are experiencing any blood drainage, pus or the pain does not leave after a few days, be sure to visit your health care provider immediately.
Your best bet may be a dentist
Of course, if you suspect that your issues are TMJ related and are aware of other symptoms such as clenching your teeth, headaches, grinding your teeth, chronic neck or shoulder pain etc. you may want to simply make your dental appointment first.
What is the temporomandibular joint?
You have one of these joints on each side of your head. It is the “hinge” that connects the jaw to the skull. The temporomandibular joint is located in close proximity to the middle ear and the ear canal. The muscles surrounding this exceptionally important muscle, along with the ligaments and fascia that hold the bones in place, are intimately connected with the ear and the subsequent nerves that offer support. When this joint becomes inflamed, pain can transcend into the ear region, masquerading as an earache.
Dentists specialize in not only the mouth but the entire anatomy of the face, head and neck regions. And specially trained dentists who use the TruDenta system of diagnosis and treatment are able to see past the presenting symptoms of ear pain and other issues, including chronic migraines, to determine that the jaw is at the heart of the issue.
Predisposing dental factors
A tooth infection can cause pain to radiate in unlikely places. Some individuals are chronic tooth grinders however, they may be unaware. Many people are first notified of their grinding habits during a regular dental check up when the dentist notices that their teeth are worn down ultra smooth. Some people simply never associate waking up with a headache and a sore jaw with any clenching or bruxism (grinding) issues. However, many patients are asymptomatic and never experience chronic pain. Only once acute pain sets in and doesn’t disappear do they begin investigating.
Clenching and bruxism are involuntary behaviors that may be stress related. Some patients begin to notice that they find themselves clenching their teeth at the office or in place of yelling at their young children. Only when one is aware of their issues can they take steps, such as wearing a mouthguard to protect their teeth and TMJ muscles. Your earaches could be a TMJ issue; therefore, if you find yourself or a loved one experiencing any chronic or acute earache symptoms, be sure to book a dental appointment. Misalignment is often the culprit and your dentist can discuss the appropriate measures to have you living pain free once and for all.