It makes sense that when experiencing reoccurring ear pain most people head to their primary care doctor to get checked for an ear infection. However, sometimes things aren’t what they seem. One of the most common causes of ear pain is actually due to jaw related issues. Many people are finding relief from their ear pain by visiting Dr. Pappas and getting screened for TMJ.
The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull and is located just in front of the ears. It’s a complicated set of ligaments, muscles, and bones. Sometimes disorders of the TMJ can occur due to an improper bite, called malocclusion, or from accident-related trauma or stress.
TMJ disorders can also affect the ears by causing ringing in them, called tinnitus. This is due to the proximity of the ear dream and the temporomandibular joint. Ears can also feel full or stuffed even without the presence of wax build up. Pain in the ears is usually made worse by movements of the jaw associated with speaking, chewing and yawning.
TMJ disorders affect over 10 million Americans, and most studies have found it to be more prevalent in women than men. Other symptoms involve jaw pain, facial pain, neck pain, migraines or headaches and bruxism (or teeth grinding). Sometimes the teeth grinding only occurs when asleep so many don’t realize this is affecting them.
The best treatment plan to provide relief from the pain depends on each individual situation. A repositioning of the bite can alleviate many of the symptoms associated with TMJ. Sometimes this involves a simple adjustment and other time a full mouth reconstruction. Oral appliances can also be worn that many patients have found successful in helping with the pain.