Earache? It Could Be TMJ

Earache? It Could Be TMJ

An estimated 10 million Americans have a TMJ — or temporomandibular joint disorder. These issues may develop because of the joint in your jawbone, but one of their most common symptoms involves the ear.

Dr. Peter Gambertoglio helps people with TMJ disorders on a regular basis at our dental practice in Spring, Texas. Most people associate these conditions with tooth or jaw symptoms, such as: 

But TMJ can trigger numerous issues beyond the mouth, such as neck pain and headaches. And, more often than not, TMJ causes ear problems, like pain, tinnitus, and vertigo.

TMJ and your ears

You have two temporomandibular joints, one on each side of your face, in front of your ears. They connect your skull to your lower jaw, like a hinge, so your mouth can open and close. This joint can also glide, which is how you can open your mouth even wider to take a really big bite or yawn.

It’s easy to locate these joints and feel these two movements in action yourself — simply place your fingertips against your face in front of your ears, then open and close your mouth. When these actions work smoothly, it’s due to the soft disc of cartilage in the joint that absorbs shock and distributes force evenly throughout the area.

TMJ disorders typically develop for three reasons:

It’s also possible to have TMJ disorders without an obvious cause. However, the proximity of the temporomandibular joints to your ears and their internal ear canals is the main reason TMJ disorders cause symptoms in this area, like aches, a ringing sound, and vertigo.

How to know if TMJ is to blame for your earache

Unlike an earache caused by an inner ear infection, ear symptoms from TMJ occur because of pain and inflammation in the nearby joint. An ENT specialist can examine your ear canal, eardrum, and hearing for signs of infection. But Dr. Gambertoglio can check for signs of a TMJ disorder.

Dr. Gambertoglio screens our patients for TMJ disorders during every dental exam and can often spot the signs of a problem long before symptoms appear. He also offers the latest techniques to help ease your symptoms and protect your teeth and jaw from additional damage.

The traditional treatment for TMJ disorders involve nighttime mouthguards. However, Dr. Gambertoglio prefers flat plane splints. These orthotic devices share some similarities with night guards but have a slightly uneven surface that causes your jaw to naturally unclench. This innovative approach helps relieve muscle tension, protects your teeth, and reduces TMJ symptoms, including earaches. And they’re comfortable and easy to use.

Dr. Gambertoglio also offers additional solutions if you have other dental issues associated with your TMJ disorder.

Do you have ear problems? Dr. Gambertoglio can determine if a TMJ disorder is behind your symptoms. Contact our office in Spring, Texas, to schedule a TMJ screening by calling 281-350-8852 today.

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