The Link Between Ear Pain and TMJ

The Link Between Ear Pain and TMJ

If you’ve been thinking your ear pain is due to a cold or infection, it could be time to schedule a dental appointment instead of a trip to urgent care. Believe it or not, ear pain is a common sign of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Or, more simply put, issues with your jawbone joint.

At our family dentistry practice, Dr. Peter Gambertoglio screens all of our patients for TMJ disorders during every visit. If you have ear, neck, head, or jaw pain, here’s why it could be time to schedule an exam at our office in Spring, Texas.

What you need to know about your TMJ

Your TMJ is the hinge-like joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. If you press your finger to your face directly in front of your ear and open your mouth, you can feel it in action for yourself.

Each time you speak, chew, or swallow, your TMJ comes into play, allowing your lower jaw to move forward, backward, or side-to-side. It’s also why uncomfortable issues can arise when you have problems with this joint.

Types of TMJ disorders

TMJ issues can arise for a variety of reasons, including:

You can also experience TMJ disorders for reasons that aren’t clear. However, whether the cause is known or not, TMJ disorders can lead to numerous symptoms, including intense pain in your ears.

Signs of a TMJ disorder

As you might imagine, a TMJ problem can cause intense discomfort in the jaw itself, especially when you move your mouth to chew, talk, yawn, or swallow. Other common signs of a TMJ disorder include:

However, TMJ disorders also routinely cause issues in areas beyond your mouth, from your temple, head, and neck to your face, cheek, and ears. In fact, one of the most common signs of a TMJ disorder involves an aching ear.

Ear pain and TMJ disorders

Did you find your TMJ in front of your ear as we described above? This location is what causes so many ear problems when you have a disorder.

Your TMJ is extremely close to your auditory canal and the temporal bone, increasing your chances of symptoms in this area. As a result, a TMJ disorder often causes your problems, especially aching pain in or around the ear and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.

Up to 15% of adults experience acute or chronic TMJ disorders during their lifetime. Fortunately, the right dental treatment can help ease your symptoms and make your ear pain a distant memory.

Treating TMJ disorders

Dr. Gambertoglio can diagnose TMJ problems during a routine visit. And, since signs often appear before symptoms do, he can even identify an issue before pain develops.

To determine the best course of treatment, Dr. Gambertoglio performs a comprehensive dental exam to identify the root cause of your TMJ disorder. In most cases, he can address your symptoms with flat plane splints. 

You wear these orthotic devices in your mouth, similar to a nightguard or mouthguard, but a flat plane splint has a slightly uneven surface. This difference causes your jaw to naturally unclench when you bite down, which protects your teeth and eases muscle tension, making it an ideal solution for ear aches, jaw pain, or headaches from TMJ disorders.

If you have other dental issues contributing to your symptoms, Dr. Gambertoglio can make personalized recommendations to ensure you find relief.

Is your ear pain due to a TMJ disorder? Contact our office in Spring, Texas, to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gambertoglio by calling 281-350-8852 today.

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