You may experience ear and jaw pain at the same time for a variety of reasons. Though these parts of your body are distinct, they are nearby. The pain may be caused by a medical condition in your jaw, ear, or mouth, or it may be caused by referred pain. This occurs when a part of your body experiences pain even though the pain is located elsewhere.
The following are some conditions that can cause pain in both your jaw and your ears.
1. TMJ dysfunction
One cause of ear and jaw pain could be your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This area includes both the jaw joint and the muscles that surround it. The TMJ is located near the temporal bone, which houses your inner ear. The TMJ works hard, moving in multiple directions so you can chew and talk.
TMJ disorder can cause ear and jaw pain. TMJ disorder affects approximately 10% to 15% of adults. TMJ inflammation and pain are caused by these disorders. The most common complaints about this condition are facial pain and ear discomfort. If you have symptoms for more than three months, you may have a chronic TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder can develop as a result of normal wear and tear or as a result of another medical condition. Your doctor may suspect TMJ disorder in some cases, but you have something else, such as:
• obstructive sleep apnea
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of TMJ arthritis and can be the cause of ear and jaw pain. Over time, damage to the cartilage lining the joint causes this condition to worsen. The pain and stiffness in the joint could be very bothersome.
3. Arthritis, psoriatic or rheumatoid
The immune system mistakenly targets healthy joints, causing these forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are both autoimmune diseases.
It’s possible that your TMJ pain is just one example of the widespread joint pain you might experience, or that it’s triggered by something else entirely.
Migraine headaches can originate in the jaw and ears, where the TMJ is located. Intense headaches known as migraines can strike repeatedly. You may become more sensitive to things like light, sound, and smell after being exposed to them.
5. Irritation of the ear caused by swimming
When bacteria develop in the outer ear due to contact with water or an injury, this condition manifests itself. This issue can occur if you swim with water in your ears or if something pierces your eardrum. If left untreated, the condition can worsen, causing pain in the ear and jaw.
Sinusitis can cause discomfort in your ears and jaw. If your nasal passages become irritated and inflamed, as can happen if you have a cold or allergies, you may suffer from this condition. Although viruses are the most common culprit, bacterial sinusitis is also a possibility.
7 – Oral Health Problems
If bacteria are allowed to accumulate on your teeth and gums, you may develop cavities, periodontal disease, and dental abscesses. If left untreated, these conditions can have serious consequences for the mouth and even the rest of the body. Problems with the jaw and ears may result.
8. Gnashing of teeth
Teeth grinding can cause a TMJ disorder, which causes headaches and jaw and ear pain. This issue may:
• influences tooth alignment
• wearing down your teeth
• you should TMJ-break down
• Use up a lot of muscle
Nighttime teeth-grinding can go unnoticed until it causes discomfort or other symptoms
Pain in the jaw and ear are only two of the symptoms of these diseases. The following additional symptoms are possible:
Joint dislocation syndrome
• trouble in the face
• Chewing discomfort
• noise in the ears
• Deterioration in hearing
• discomfort in the neck and shoulders
• Misalignment and shifting of teeth
To begin the diagnosis of your jaw and ear pain, your doctor will perform a physical exam. To learn more about your symptoms, your doctor may also inquire about your medical history. Make sure to include:
• recent dental procedures
• Stress, anxiety, or depression are examples of mental health changes.
Your doctor could:
• Pay attention to your jaw.
• Feel your jaw and the area around your face.
• Examine your ears
• Examine your vital signs
• inspect your mouth
An MRI, X-ray or another imaging test may be required to diagnose the condition.
The cause of jaw and ear pain varies, as do the treatments.
You may not need TMJ treatment because 40% of cases resolve on their own and only 5 to 10% of cases require treatment. TMJ disorder treatments may include:
• putting your jaw down
• home treatments
• Taking anti-inflammatory medications over-the-counter
• putting on a brace or splint to limit jaw movement
• flushing your joint to relieve pain and inflammation
• In severe cases, surgery
Treatments for other causes of ear and joint pain may be similar. Specific medications may be prescribed for conditions such as arthritis, swimmer’s ear, and sinusitis. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for arthritis, steroids for swimmer’s ear, and nasal sprays for sinusitis, among other treatments.
Cavities, periodontal disease, and dental abscesses may necessitate tooth extraction, a root canal, or deep cleaning in addition to other treatment options.
There are several home remedies for TMJ disorders that you can try:
• Adjust your diet to include more soft foods.
• Stop chewing gum or using other objects like the tips of pens or pencils.
• Relax and take a breather.
• On the jaw, apply a warm or cold compress.
• Perform jaw stretching exercises, such as slowly opening and closing your mouth several times.
• Avoid being stressed.
Some of these treatments may also be effective for other conditions that cause ear and jaw pain.
Take good care of your teeth to treat and prevent mouth conditions. To avoid bacteria buildup in your mouth, brush and floss on a regular healthy diet and quit smoking.
When should you see a doctor?
If you have ear and jaw pain, you should see a doctor:
• comes with a fever or other flu-like symptoms
• interferes with your daily activities
• interferes with your ability to sleep
• persists despite treatment
• prevents you from eating and drinking
• causes tooth or gum pain or sensitivity
There are numerous reasons why you might have jaw and ear pain at the same time. Frequently, the condition affecting both of them is related to only one of your jaws or ears, but you experience referred pain in the other.
Consult your doctor to determine the source of your jaw and ear pain. This will assist you in treating the pain and preventing it from worsening.