TMJ ear pain
TMJ disorders can cause pain in the ears as well as pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders. Of course, other disorders can cause similar symptoms to TMJ ear pain such as an ear infection, tooth abscess, ear wax build-up or any number of serious conditions, so it’s important to see a doctor to rule out other possibilities for your pain before seeking out a TMJ dentist.
Once other possibilities have been ruled out, it’s comforting for most patients to learn that TMJ ear pain is very treatable. A conversation with an expert TMJ dentist can help to establish the exact cause of this pain as TMJ causes vary from patient to patient, and choose the best course of action to relieve the discomfort and achieve eventual recovery.
How the ear is connected to the jaw
Ears are dynamic organs. They do not just sit there on the side of one’s head but are instead controlled by muscles just like the rest of the face. This can be demonstrated very visibly by a person who can actually wiggle their ears. Even though most people can’t do this, we all still have the same set of muscles.
One way to demonstrate this is to place your (clean) finger firmly inside of your ear and then widely open and close your jaw. Do you feel the movement? Now consider that when one is on an airplane and an uncomfortable level of pressure builds up inside the ear’s eustachian tubes, passengers often reach for a stick of gum. This is because the act of moving the jaw muscles can help relieve this ear pressure build-up.
How TMJ disorders lead to TMJ ear pain
Because the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is very closely connected to the muscles that control the ears, when this joint is misaligned or otherwise malfunctioning it puts pressure on the muscles that both surround and control the ears and in turn can place excess pressure on the ear’s nerves. Also, the pain of the TMJ disorder sometimes is simply being transferred so that it is felt in the ears when it is actually originating in the jaw.
Finding the unique cause of your pain will help to determine which course of treatment will be used, so your TMJ dentist will conduct a very thorough patient history and physical examination to discover the underlying facial anatomy problems related to your disorder.
Symptoms of TMJ ear pain
- Sharp shooting pain in ear
- Dull aching pain in ear
- Feeling of fullness in the eustachian tubes, similar to the discomfort ears popping
- Pain in ears when chewing
- Pain in ears when speaking
- Ringing or other unusual noises in ears
How your TMJ dentist can help
Once the cause of your specific TMJ ear pain is discovered, your dentist in Beverly, MA can offer many different options for treatment. Often treatment requires nothing more than hot and cold compresses, muscle relaxants or pain relievers. A specially designed night-guard designed to prevent tooth-grinding may also provide substantial relief. Surgery may help as well, but should be considered last after all other treatment options have failed.
Dr. Polan specializes in neuromuscular dentistry and the treatment of TMJ ear pain. In addition to his 25 years of experience serving the North Shore, Dr. Polan has received extensive training at the Somnomed Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the Allentown Pain center. His experienced and friendly staff will explain the possible causes of your pain and work with you to decide the best course of action for your unique situation and eventual recovery.