TMD and ear pain are related. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is characterized by pain in the jaw joint that often cause TMD ear pain. The TMJ connects our lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of the ear. Some of the facial muscles that manage our chewing are attached to the lower jaw.
Problems in the TMJ area can cause TMD ear pain, neck pain, facial pain, and headaches. It can cause your jaw to lock or even difficult to open. You will face problems with biting. This condition might create jaw clicking or popping sounds whenever you chew.
The temporomandibular joint disorder is also referred to as a temporomandibular joint disorder. More women than men have TMJ disorder. (1)
Furthermore, we discuss the signs, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of the temporomandibular disorder and related TMD ear pain. We will also look into ways to prevent it.
Signs and symptoms of TMD
Common symptoms and include –
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw joint, neck and shoulders, around the ear, when you chew, speak, or open our mouth wide.
- Pain when you try and open your mouth wide.
- Jaws that get stuck in the open or closed mouth position.
- Sometimes there are clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint when we chew. This may even be painful.
- A tired feeling face.
- Trouble in chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite, as if the upper and lower teeth are not coming together correctly.
- Swelling on the side of your face.
You may also have toothaches, headaches, neck aches, dizziness, hearing problems, upper shoulder pain, and ringing in the ears
Dentists consider that symptom arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to your jaw
A massive blow to the joint or the muscles of your head and neck can lead to TMD.
Teeth grinding or bruxism puts a lot of pressure on the joint is also a probable cause of TMD.
Movement of the articular disc
The articular disc is a soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint. Any movement in this disc causes TMD.
Arthritis in the joint is a probable reason for joint inflammation and pain.
Stress can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth. This leads to joint inflammation and pain.
Diagnosis of TMD
Many conditions cause similar symptoms like tooth decay, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease. To figure out what’s causing TMD ear pain is difficult.
- Jaw joints are often checked for pain or tenderness and listen for clicks, pops, or grating sounds when you move them. When you see your dentist, he might also make sure your jaw works in unison as any other healthy jaw. It should not lock when you open or close your mouth.
- The dentist might test your bite and your facial muscles.
- Your dentist may take X-rays so he can view your jaws, temporomandibular joints, and teeth and rule out other problems.
- The dentist may also need to do other tests, like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). The MRI can show if the TMJ disc is in the proper position as your jaw moves. A CT scan shows the bony detail of the joint. (2)
Home Treatments for TMD
There are a few things one can try on their own to help relieve TMD symptoms. Your dentist may even suggest you try some of these remedies.
- Use moist heat and cold packs – Apply an ice pack over your face and temple area for about 10 minutes. Do a few simple jaw stretches. When you’re done, hold a warm towel or washcloth to the side of your face for about 5 minutes.
- Eat soft foods – Add yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains to your menu.
- Avoid making extreme jaw movements like yawning and chewing (especially gum or ice) to a minimum and do anything that forces you to open wide.
- Avoid resting your chin anywhere. Do practice some proper postures to reduce neck and facial pain.
Talk to a dentist about these tried-and-true treatments for TMD.
- Medications – Your dentist might prescribe higher doses of NSAIDs if you need them for pain and swelling.
- A splint or night guard or bite block – These plastic mouthpieces by your dentist fit in your upper and lower teeth, so they don’t touch. They lessen the effects of clenching.
- Dental treatment – Dentists may replace missing teeth and use crowns, bridges, or even braces to balance the tooth surfaces to correct a bite related problem.
If the treatments above don’t help, the dentist might even suggest one or more of the following:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – This specific therapy uses a low-level electrical current that provides pain relief by relaxing your jaw joint and facial muscles. It can be done at the dental office or home.
- Ultrasonography – Deep heat waves applied to the affected jaw joint relieves soreness and improves mobility.
- Trigger point injections.
- Pain medication and anesthesia are injected into the facial muscles called trigger points which give relief.
- Radiotherapy – Radio waves stimulate the jaw joint and increase blood flow to the joint and eases the pain.
- Low-level laser therapy – This lowers inflammation and helps move the neck more freely and open the mouth wider.
- Surgery for TMD – If other treatments can’t help you, surgery is also the option. (3)
Is it preventable?
Here are a few ways to relieve stress on the jaw and prevent TMD ear pain –
- Keep your face relaxed with and lips together with teeth apart.
- Massage the jaw, cheeks, and temples.
- Avoid grinding and clenching your teeth and minimize chewy or hard foods in your diet even chew gum.
- Chew using both sides of your mouth, and take smaller bites.
- Practice proper postures and invest in ergonomic furniture.
- Stretch regularly to relax your joints.
- Don’t rest your chin on anything.
- Support the lower jaw with your hand while yawning.
- Don’t bite hard objects.
- Avoid holding the phone between your neck and shoulder.
Over to you on TMD and ear pain
Unavoidable, injuries to the TMJ call for immediate medical attention to restore your jaw to its correct position. If you experience ear pain of any sort, please don’t assume it to be an ear infection.
Think whether you could have TMD ear pain or not and get the necessary care that targets the source of the issue.