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Ear Pain and TMJ Disorders: Understanding the Link in Maryville

If you have been experiencing ear pain and thinking it has to do with an infection or cold, you may want to consider seeing a dentist. You should know that ear pain may also be due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. A Maryville dentist can assess your condition to determine if you should be worried about a jaw problem. If you are suffering from ear, head, neck, or jaw pain, it may be time to schedule a dental examination.

What is TMJ?

The TMJ is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull, letting you open and close your mouth, as well as assisting in movements such as speaking and chewing. This joint can have a problem when the ligaments and muscles around it become irritated or inflamed. This may be an acute or chronic condition, causing mild or serious pain. TMJ problems can occur because of a jaw injury, excessive gum chewing, a misaligned bite, arthritis, and teeth grinding. TMJ disorders can result in many symptoms including ear pain.

Signs of TMJ Disorders

An issue with your TMJ can cause intense jaw discomfort particularly as you chew, yawn, swallow, or talk. Common signs of a TMJ disorder include difficulty opening your mouth, jaw joint locking, popping or clicking when you open your mouth, headaches, tooth sensitivity, or facial swelling. But TMJ disorders also cause problems in areas outside of your mouth including your neck, head, temple, cheek, and ear. Indeed, an aching ear is a common sign of a TMJ disorder. 

TMJ Disorders and Ear Pain

Because your TMJ is quite close to the temple bone and your auditory canal, you may get symptoms in such areas when you suffer from a TMJ disorder. These symptoms often include ringing ears or pain around your ear and tinnitus. Although a TMJ disorder is common, the right dental solution can ease your symptoms.

Treatment for TMJ Disorders

Your dentist can diagnose a TMJ issue during your routine visit. Because signs usually appear before symptoms do, they can determine a problem before pain develops. Your dentist will perform a dental examination to determine what’s causing your TMJ disorder. Often, they can address your symptoms using flat plane splints. These devices work like mouthguards or nightguards, but they have an uneven surface. This allows your jaw to unclench whenever you bite down, protecting your teeth and easing muscle tension. This makes the device ideal for earaches, headaches, and jaw pain due to a TMJ disorder. 

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