Some kinds of pain can be as uncomfortable as ear pain and people who suffer from it think their aural discomfort is due to an infection. But, there are actually many causes of ear pain including a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This problem can lead to a range of issues which start at the jaw. Keep reading to know more about TMJ disorder and ear pain:
What is TMJ
TMJ is the area in front of the ear where your lower jaw connects to the side of your skull. It is composed of a complex system of muscles, bones, ligaments, and cartilage discs which work together like a hinge. Also, they let you move your jaw forward, backward, and side to side. Any damage to your TMJ is a TMJ disorder of which symptoms can include ear pain.
What TMJ Pain is Like
Ear pain associated with TMJ is dull, sharp, and ongoing. In fact, it can cause facial spasms. The pain is usually felt whenever you talk, swallow, chew, or yawn. While this pain impacts the tissues that cover the joint in front of your ear, it can also be felt in the surrounding facial area along the side of your neck, head, cheek, temple, teeth, and lower jaw. Usually, ear pain comes with a clicking sound and makes it hard for you to open your mouth. If you suspect you have ear pain because of TMJ, visit a dentist who specializes in Neuromuscular Dentistry and TMJ.
Reasons a TMJ Disorder can Cause Ear Pain
A TMJ disorder can lead to ear pain because of many reasons. For instance, chewing gum can lead to jaw overuse and subtle muscle spasms which indicates that something is not right. Also, teeth grinding, a bad bite, stress, and other factors can put the same pressure on these muscles which lead to pain and tenderness that tends to radiate into the ear.
TMJ and Ear Pain Treatment
Treatment for a TMJ disorder depends on the cause of the injury and severity of the conditions that surround it. Sore muscles can usually be relieved by using over-the-counter pain medicines and applying moist heat to the affected area. Also, spasms and tenderness can be treated by taking anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants. For ear pain that results from teeth grinding or a bad bite, mouth guards or orthodontic treatment might help. Any TMJ disorder will require direct medical attention to restore the jaw to its correct position. Also, it’s important to note that just because you experience pain does not mean it is an ear infection.