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The Link Between Your Earache and TMJ

The Link Between Your Earache and TMJ

In order to do basic things with your mouth like eat or speak, you need the maxilla and mandible, or the upper and lower jawbones, respectivelly. They provide structure to your mouth, house your teeth, and support your lips, tongue, and jaw muscles. If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw, a likely source is in your temporomandibular (TMJ) joint, which connects your mandible to your skull.

TMJ disorders can be caused by several factors and can create problems in other places on your head, leading to issues like earaches. Let’s explore what can lead to this happening by looking at the causes of TMJ pain, how it affects your ear, and the ways it can be treated.

Residents of the Central Coast and Bakersfield, California, areas looking for relief from TMJ and related issues can find help with Dr. Koushan Azad and the experienced, extensive medical team at CaliDental. Our team can help with a wide variety of dental needs as well as TMJ treatments, and we even have in-house dental plans for uninsured patients at our offices in San Luis Obispo, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Bakersfield, California.

Causes of TMJ pain

The temporomandibular joint is what is known as a hinge joint, which allows your jaw movement back and forth in a specific motion similar to the hinge on a door. The bones that are involved in this movement are covered in cartilage and are separated by a small disk that absorbs the shock of movement, keeping functioning smooth.

TMJ disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, such as the eroding or misalignment of the disk, arthritis causing damage to the cartilage, or damage from injury. In addition to these factors, your chances of TMJ disorders increase with chronic grinding or clenching of teeth and tissue diseases that affect your temporomandibular joint.

How it affects your ear

Typical symptoms in your jaw include jaw tenderness, clicking, popping, locking of your jaw, or difficulty opening your mouth. However, your ear is often affected by TMJ disorders because of its close proximity to the joint. The ear symptoms are actually common, as any inflammation in this part of your jaw can lead to issues with your auditory canal, with symptoms like earaches and tinnitus (a ringing in your ears).

Jaw problems can affect many areas of your head, and you may also experience facial pain, specifically soreness around your head, neck, temples, and cheek.

Methods of treatment

Treatment options for TMJ disorders vary by severity and cause, but there are basic methods you can use to manage the pain. These include applying moist heat to the area, TMJ stretches and exercises, avoiding clenching or tensing your jaw, avoiding chewing gum, trying relaxation techniques, and eating softer foods.

Other treatment options are available, such as muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications, mouthguards for grinding or clenching, and orthotic appliances if the problems are due to teeth misalignment issues related to TMJ disorders. If your earaches are a result of the jaw problems, then treatments related to those problems will help ease the pain and discomfort. 

TMJ and earache pain are unpleasant, but since both are often related, treatment is available, and we can help. Call or make an appointment online today with Dr. Azad and the medical team at CaliDental today to get relief.

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