How Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) and Ear Pain Are Related

Most individuals who feel ear pain assume that the ear discomfort is caused by an ear infection. Surprisingly, many times ear discomfort can be caused by a disorder of TMJ which can cause a range of problems of the jaw.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint is the area in front of your ear where the lower part of your jaw connects to your skull. This joint enables you to move your lower jaw forward, backwards and side to side. Anything that causes the jaw to malfunction is called a TMJ disorder and one symptom of this can be ear pain.

What Does TMJ Ear Pain Feel Like?

TMJ ear pain may be a dull, ongoing pain or it could be a sharp intermittent pain. You are more likely to feel it when you talk, chew, yawn or swallow. The ear pain may be accompanied by a clicking sound when moving your jaw. It may also be difficult to open your mouth as wide as you normally would.

Why TMJ Ear Pain May Occur?

Excessive gum chewing can result in overuse of the jaw. An improper bite, teeth grinding, stress and other psychological triggers can all put similar pressure on these muscles resulting in pain that can radiate to the ear.

What Should I Do If I Feel Ear Pain?

The first step when experiencing ear pain would be to see your primary care physician to rule out a possible ear infection. If an ear infection is ruled out, a visit to your dentist may be advised to determine if the cause of your ear pain is being caused by a TMJ disorder.

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