Reasons For Jaw And Ear Pain
There are many reasons why you may experience ear and jaw pain at the same time. The two parts are very different, but they lay close to each other.
The cause of pain could be a problem with your ear, jaw, or mouth. Additionally, you may experience jaw and ear pain on one or both sides due to referred pain. This phenomenon happens when your body feels an ache in one part of the body, which is due to an injury or trauma from another part of your body.
Here are eleven common conditions that can cause pain and discomfort in your ears and jaw simultaneously.
How Can Things Go Wrong With Tmj
In most patients, pain associated with the TMJ is a result of displacement of the cartilage disc that causes pressure and stretching of the associated sensory nerves. The popping or clicking occurs when the disk snaps into place when the jaw moves. In addition, the chewing muscles may spasm, function inefficiently, and cause pain and tenderness.
Both major and minor trauma to the jaw can significantly contribute to the development of TMJ problems. If you habitually clench, grit, or grind your teeth, you increase the wear on the cartilage lining of the joint, and it doesnt have a chance to recover. Many persons are unaware that they grind their teeth, unless someone tells them so.
Chewing gum much of the day can cause similar problems. Stress and other psychological factors have also been implicated as contributory factors to TMJ dysfunction. Other causes include teeth that do not fit together properly , malpositioned jaws, and arthritis. In certain cases, chronic malposition of the cartilage disc and persistent wear in the cartilage lining of the joint space can cause further damage.
How Is A Bone Infection In Jaw Diagnosed
The dentist will examine the jaw for signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis, including swelling and tenderness. He/she may inquire regarding recent medical history, focusing majorly on any recent operations, accidents, and infections.
The diagnosis tests include
The presence of a high amount of white blood cells generally points out infection.
The dentist may take a small piece of tissue to diagnose which type of pathogen- fungi or bacteria is leading to jawbone infection, doing so will aid in finding an appropriate treatment.
3. Imaging Tests
An MRI, x-ray, CT scan may also be done to look for clearly pointed damages and causes.
Usually, whatever the tests are conducted to know the bone infections in other parts of the body the same are done for jawbone infections.
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What To Do About It
If we experience this problem, its best to use earbuds designed to offer more support for our head and neck. The support helps reduce pain and discomfort, so you can enjoy your music without interruption. It will keep the jaw and neck muscles relaxed, thus preventing neck pain.
When using earbuds for long periods, choosing a pair that fits properly in our ears is important. We may experience soreness after using them for several hours if they dont fit. Its also advisable to use them for a short period. If not possible, we should remove them from time to time to allow the ear muscles to relax.
When we use earbuds too long, they are prone to accumulating bacteria. The bacteria could highly contribute to the occurrence of ear infections. Therefore, we should clean the earbuds as frequently as possible. When cleaning, its best to pour a little sanitizer on the wiping cloth. The sanitizer would kill any bacteria that could have caused ear infections.
Why Does My Jaw Hurt
When you are experiencing pain in your jaw most people attribute it to TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorder. While this disorder is a cause for a lot of jaw problems, it is not always the cause of jaw pain. In fact, jaw pain can be a symptom of many serious health issues and should be examined by a professional if it lasts for more than 24 hours or is very severe. In any case, you should never ignore it. Your jaw or tooth pain could be telling you something, and you want to seek treatment before it becomes a more significant issue.
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What Is Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome
Temporomandibular joint syndrome is a pain in the jaw joint that can be caused by a variety of medical problems. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull in front of the ear. Certain facial muscles that control chewing are also attached to the lower jaw. Problems in this area can cause head and neck pain, facial pain, ear pain, headaches, a jaw that is locked in position or difficult to open, problems with biting, and jaw clicking or popping sounds when you bite. The temporomandibular joint syndrome is also referred to as the temporomandibular joint disorder. Overall, more women than men have TMJ syndrome.
The TMJ is comprised of muscles, blood vessels, nerves, and bones. You have two TMJs, one on each side of your jaw.
Muscles involved in chewing also open and close the mouth. The jawbone itself, controlled by the TMJ, has two movements: rotation or hinge action, which is opening and closing of the mouth, and gliding action, a movement that allows the mouth to open wider. The coordination of this action also allows you to talk, chew, and yawn.
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How Is Malignant Otitis Externa Diagnosed
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to determine if you have malignant otitis externa. The exam will include a complete health history. This will allow your doctor to identify underlying conditions that may compromise your immune system.
During the exam, your doctor will look into your ear to see if theres an infection. Your doctor will also examine your head and behind your ear. If theres drainage from the ear, your doctor may take a sample, or culture, of the drainage. Theyll send this sample to a lab for analysis. This will help identify the bacteria causing the infection.
If you have malignant otitis externa, your doctor may perform additional tests to see if the infection has spread. Such tests include:
- a neurological exam
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How Tmj Disorders Lead To Ear Pain
Because the temporomandibular joint is very closely connected to the muscles that control the ears, a misalignment or malfunction puts pressure on the muscles that both surround andcontrol the ears and in turn can place excess pressure on the ears nerves. Also, the pain of TMJ disorder is sometimes transferred directly to the ears as opposed to its originpoint in the jaw.
Finding the unique cause of your pain will help to determine which course of treatment will be used, so a TMJ dentist such as Dr. Benjamin Polan in Beverly, MA will conduct avery thorough patient history and physical examination to discover the underlying problems.
Less Common Cause Types
Causes of jaw pain that are less common include the following.
- Anxiety: This leads to tension, which can lead to tooth grinding and jaw clenching. The actions can cause damage and uneven wear to the surface of the teeth, which then causes uneven pressure on the joints of the jawbones.
- Overusing the jaw muscles for chewing or even talking: This can leave these muscles sore and inflamed.
- Abnormalities of the jaw: These can be treated by dentists and other specialists.
- Myofascial pain syndrome: This is where “trigger points” small areas of very tight, contracted muscle tissue cause pain when touched or pressed.
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How Serious Is A Jaw Bone Infection
A jaw bone infection is serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital. If you have a jaw bone infection, then it is important that you seek medical treatment immediately. A jaw bone infection can be treated with antibiotics, but if you leave it untreated, then it can lead to serious health complications.
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Why Can An Ear Hurt From A Toothache
Jaw, tooth, and ear pain is part of the trigeminal system. In short, this system is a three-pronged sensory nerve that encapsulates the head and face, providing sensory input for touch, pain, and temperature.
The largest nerve system in the body, the trigeminal system is responsible for sensation in several structures in the body, including the ears, eyes, nose, mouth and meninges. Researchers note that the fear and angst associated with orofacial pain from this specific nerve is likely a cause of dentist phobia.
Inversely, a toothache may accompany an ear or sinus infection because of the proximity of teeth to sinuses. The back top teeth are located right below the sinuses. When those sinus cavities become infected or inflamed, the pressure can radiate pain within the mouth.
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Medications To Avoid If You Have High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is best understood as the force of blood pressing against the walls of your arteries. A person can be diagnosed with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, when their blood pressure is consistently greater than 140/90 mm Hg.
When a persons blood pressure is too high, their hearts need to work harder which can cause serious damage to the arteries. Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Some medications can increase your blood pressure, so its important to be aware of which medications to avoid if your blood pressure is already elevated. If you are unsure of whether a medication might impact your current blood pressure state, your physician or pharmacist are the first resources you should consult. Often, they will be able to recommend an alternative product that will not affect your blood pressure.
Oral Nasal Decongestants
Oral nasal decongestants like Sudafed and Sudafed PE can increase blood pressure by elevating your heart rate and causing blood vessels to narrow, also known as vasoconstriction. Pseudoephedrine and phenylephedrine can also be found in many cold, cough and flu combination products. If you suffer from cold, cough or flu symptoms, try Coricidin HBP products.
Topical Nasal Decongestants
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Concerned About Your Blood Pressure? Our experienced team can answer your questions. Find an available appointment today.
By Tony Curtis, PT, August 17, 2022
Ear Infection Uncommon In Adults
Even if you got painful ear infections often as a child, you are unlikely to get them as an adult. An ear infection typically occurs when an infection elsewhere, such as a cold or flu, spreads to the middle ear. High numbers of bacteria and/or viruses clog the narrow passage. The clogging gets worse as your immune response causes swelling and the production of fluid in the ear. In children, the ear passage is narrow and easily clogged.
In adults, the ear passage is wider and less likely to get clogged. Plus, our immune response changes as we get older. Generally, this means we dont get as much swelling.
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Who Is Most Often Affected
The following people are more often affected by jaw pain.
- Women between the ages of about 30 to 50 seem to be most often affected: However, anyone can have the symptom of jaw pain.
- Anyone with the constant habit of chewing gum may find themselves with jaw pain: This is due to simple overuse of the chewing muscles.
- If you wear orthodontic braces you may experience jaw pain: This is due to the forces trying to readjust the alignment of your teeth.
- Sitting with poor posture with your head forward: Such as when looking at a computer screen all day, is sometimes associated with TMJ pain
Ear Pain: About Ear Infection
Ear infections can cause significant pain around, behind, or inside the ear. At times, this ear pain transmits to a sinus or sinuses, jaw, or teeth.
Most of the time, bacteria or viruses cause ear infections. Also, an ear infection can occur when water or different liquids develop in the ear.
An individual with an ear infection may develop different symptoms, for example, earache, congestion, fever, and low energy. The pain of ear infections can be severe and may deteriorate without treatment.
An untreated ear infection can escalate to different areas of the body. Some individuals foster an infection known as mastoiditis, a condition in the mastoid bone close to the ear. When this occurs, an individual may encounter swelling near the ear, hearing issues, or a high fever. Extreme instances of mastitis can be dangerous and need immediate treatment.
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Worn Cracked Or Broken Teeth
When the jaw joints, muscles, and teeth do not work in harmony, an imbalance occurs in the bite. When your top and bottom teeth come together, the misalignment can cause excessive pressure on certain teeth which can cause worn, cracked, or broken teeth. In addition, patients with TMJ disorders also tend to clench or grind their teeth, which can also lead to worn, cracked, or broken teeth. If you visit your dentist regularly for cleanings, they will usually tell you if they see signs of wear from clenching and grinding.
Why Tmj Could Be Causing Your Ear Pain
A few common causes of ear pain aside from trauma include ear infections, inflammation of the ear canal, and blockage of the ear canal. These complications call for the attention of a physician for treatment. Physicians may also check your parotid gland, a salivary gland just in front of the ear, which may produce stones that put pressure on the ear canal. If an ear, nose, and throat specialist has ruled out the above causes of your ear pain, however, your trouble could be caused by TMJ.
The three bones that make up the inner ear are housed inside the temporal bone, which our jaw presses against. TMJ puts excess pressure on the temporal bone, leading to increased pressure within the ear. That pressure causes ear pain.
Another reason that TMJ can cause ear pain is because it puts pressure on the trigeminal nerve. This nerve controls most of the movement of the ear. Poor alignment of the jaw can cause spasms along the trigeminal nerve, leading to ear pain.
Ear pain may be accompanied by tinnitus, which is roaring or ringing in the ears that can have many causes . In the case of TMJ disorder, tinnitus is often caused by the pressure on the trigeminal nerve which can create tension on inner ear muscles.
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How Doctors Diagnose Ear / Tmj Related Jaw Pain Issues
TMJ disorders are often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can mimic those of other medical conditions. Due to this, many sufferers go undiagnosed or underdiagnosed for years until they see a TMJ expert.
TMJ dentists take a detailed medical and dental history, and examine problem areas. Signs of overuse, such as worn down and cracked teeth due to grinding, will also be evaluated. As previously mentioned, a quick visual inspection is usually enough to rule out an ear infection. Diagnostics usually include imaging, such as advanced 3-D Cone Beam CT imaging or digital X-rays.
- When seeing your TMJ dentist, keep in mind:
- Recent dental surgeries. Lengthy dental work that requires your mouth to be open wide for extended periods of time can cause or aggravate TMD.
- Illnesses. Other health problems that coexist with TMJ disorders, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances, or fibromyalgia.
- Injuries. Just like other joints in your body, the TMJ can be injured which may lead to TMD.
- Changes to your mental health, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. When you are anxious, depressed, or stressed out, you may unknowingly tense up, clench your jaw, and even grind and gnash your teeth at night . This puts extra pressure on your hard-working TMJs, resulting in over-use which can lead to pain and tenderness in the area and the joint itself.
What Are Some Causes Of Jaw And Ear Pain
Dental conditions, temporomandibular joint disorder, neuralgia and rheumatoid arthritis may cause jaw pain, states Healthgrades. Arthritis of the jaw, a sinus infection, a hole in the ear or a tooth infection may result in ear pain, explains MedlinePlus.
Disorders of the jaw and soft tissues that can result in jaw pain include osteoarthritis, bone infection, tetanus, sinusitis, and jaw dislocation or fracture, notes Healthgrades. Osteonecrosis of the jaw, which is insufficient supply of blood to the jaw area, improperly aligned teeth, and age-related wear and tear on the jaw joint and surrounding tissues may also trigger jaw pain. Tooth decay, tooth abscesses, dry socket and impacted teeth are dental disorders that can lead to jaw pain.
Headache and thyroiditis, which is inflammation of the thyroid gland, may cause the jaw to ache, according to Healthgrades. Oral cancer and heart attacks are life threatening conditions that can stimulate jaw pain.
Other causes of ear pain include sore throat, temporomandibular joint condition, short-term or long-term ear infections, and injuries to the ear, according to MedlinePlus. Ear canal irritation, ear wax buildup and obstacles that stay in the ear, including soaps and shampoo, may also cause the problem. In children, ear pain is usually due to infections. A person can chew gum, put a cold cloth on the outer ear, dry the ears after bathing and use over-the-counter medications to alleviate the pain.
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The Importance Of Having Ear And Jaw Pain Evaluated
All injuries that result from a car crash should be evaluated as soon as possible, and not all serious conditions will display signs immediately. Therefore, it is important to begin seeking treatment immediately so that you can identify any dangerous issues and begin your general or whiplash treatment early.
How long should you wait to go to the doctor after an accident? Well, jaw pain, ear pain, trouble with chewing or swallowing, ringing in the ears, headaches, or any similar conditions should be brought up to your medical provider as soon as you notice they are an issue to rule out any serious conditions.
If you are experiencing these problems or are in need of other services after a car accident, AICA Orthopedics offers a range of specialists and treatment plans. Whether you are seeking whiplash treatment, a full evaluation after an accident, or help with jaw and ear pain, AICA Orthopedics is prepared to help. We specialize in car accident victims, building personalized plans with a multidisciplinary approach to recovery.
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