The Link Between Earaches and TMJ

The Link Between Earaches and TMJ

While ear infections are relatively common in children, adults rarely experience earaches. When they do, factors like weather and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) are often involved. If you’ve noticed jaw pain, clicking, or tinnitus, there’s a good chance your earache might be connected to a TMJ disorder. In that case, your dentist might be able to alleviate your symptoms. 

At ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics in Happy Valley, Clackamas, Oregon, orthodontist Dr. Gary Chapman can evaluate your jaw and help determine if you have TMJ dysfunction that’s causing your chronic ear pain.

Understanding temporomandibular joint disorder  

Your jaw is held in place by two hinge joints on either side, known as your temporomandibular joints. TMJ disorders can cause a number of symptoms, including: 

An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ pain, and countless others go undiagnosed. TMJ disorders can be caused by a number of factors, making diagnosis difficult. Common causes of TMJ pain include: 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if bruxism and malocclusion are the causes or effects of a TMJ disorder. Regardless, treating one often means treating the other. 

Earaches and TMJ 

Because of the temporomandibular joint’s proximity to the ear canal, pain and inflammation of the joint can often lead to radiating pain. This manifests as a dull, intermittent ache in and around your ear. You might also notice tenderness just below the ear, where the temporomandibular joint is located. 

Ear infections are relatively rare in adults, but you’ll know if you have one. Infections often cause discharge and localized heat inside the ear, along with sharp, throbbing pain. If you’re recovering from a recent illness, check with your doctor to rule out infection.

Finding a solution 

Treatment for TMJ disorders depends heavily on the underlying cause. However, there’s a good chance your dentist might be able to help. If your TMJ disorder is caused by a misaligned bite or grinding at night, Dr. Chapman can fit you with one of the following: 

If you’re not sure what’s causing your TMJ disorder, a consultation can help. Just call ChapmanSmiles Orthodontics at 503-336-1883, or request an appointment online

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