Tmj and ear aches: How TMJ And Ear Pain Are Related And Treated
How TMJ And Ear Pain Are Related And Treated
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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Did you know that not all ear pain results from an infection? Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can result in discomfort in the area. The TMJ connects your jawbone to your skull; it acts as a sliding hinge that assists whenever you speak, chew, and swallow. Learn more about TMJ and ear pain disorders, how to differentiate this sensation from other types, why it occurs, and how to find relief.
What is The TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the bone that forms the side of the skull (temporal bone) and the lower jawbone (mandible), which is near your ear. This joint enables you to move your jaw forward, backward, and side-to-side. The main signs of TMJ disorder are a painful jaw and limited movement in the area.
Although the causes of TMJ disorders are often unclear, discomfort in this joint can be caused by an injury to the jaw, arthritis, teeth grinding, excessive gum chewing, or a misaligned bite. There are three main types of TMJ disorders:
- Myofascial pain: This is the most common type of TMJ disorder. It is marked by deep, aching pain in the muscles of the joint.
- Internal derangement of the joint: This is associated with a dislocated joint or trauma to the jaw.
- Degenerative disease: Arthritis is a type of degenerative joint disorder that can affect the TMJ.
TMJ Pain Characteristics
TMJ pain may be a dull, ongoing irritation or a sharp, searing pain. This discomfort may be more apparent when you move your jaw to talk, chew, swallow, or yawn. In addition to experiencing ear and jaw pain, you might also feel soreness along the side of your head, neck, temple, cheek, face, lower jaw, and teeth. Other common symptoms of TMJ also include:
- A clicking/popping sound when opening the mouth
- Locking of the joint
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Ringing sound in the ear
Remember to consult with your doctor if your aching ear is companied by any of these symptoms.
Why TMJ Ear Pain Occurs
An aching ear is a common symptom for people with a TMJ disorder. Because the TMJ is near the auditory canal, pain and inflammation in this joint can affect the ear. A ringing sound in the ear, also known as tinnitus, is often a part of TMJ ear pain. An ENT specialist can examine your hearing and eardrum to determine if your earache is related to the TMJ.
What Are the Treatment Options?
Treatment for disorders of the TMJ depends on the cause and severity. If you are experiencing mild pain, your doctor may recommend some of these self-care remedies to reduce soreness and tension in the joint:
- Eat soft-foods
- Try relaxation techniques
- Do TMJ stretches and exercises
- Avoid chewing gum
- Avoid clenching or tensing your jaw
- Apply moist heat to the area
Anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants can also help to relieve tenderness. A mouthguard may be a treatment option if your TMJ pain is caused by teeth grinding; this will prevent damage to the joint. Orthodontic appliances are a great way to correct the upper and lower teeth, as misalignment can result in problems with the temporomandibular joint.
Finding the cause of your ear pain is important because it will lead to getting the correct care. If your earache is a sign of TMJ disorder, the good news is that you can reduce pain and discomfort with a few lifestyle changes. Incorporate breathing exercises to assist with relaxation, which can ease tension on the joint. Speak with your dentist or orthodontist if your TMJ pain is related to an incorrect bite.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
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Is Your Ear Pain an Infection or TMJ?
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TMJ is sometimes called “the great imposter” because it shares so many symptoms with other conditions. That’s partly because TMJ symptoms are so numerous, diverse, and widespread that it’s hard to see them as connected with each other or with your jaw joint.
One common confusion is that people with TMJ may think they just have an ear infection. Ear symptoms are common in TMJ– nearly 80% of people with TMJ report ear symptoms. But if you have symptoms of ear infection that recur, persist, or don’t respond to usual treatment, you should consider that you might have TMJ.
Ear Infections Are Uncommon with Adults
Ear infections are common in children. Most likely, a child has some form of illness, like a cold or flu, which then spreads to the middle ear. Viruses or bacteria reproduce in the middle ear, and they, along with your body’s immune response, create swelling and excess fluid that can lead to clogging of the narrow passage.
Ear infections are more common among children with poorly developed immune systems and narrow ear passages. Adults are unlikely to experience ear infections, even if they got ear infections commonly as a child.
When the middle ear gets clogged, people may experience many symptoms that can be common with TMJ. People with both conditions may experience a variety of ear-related symptoms, such as:
- Ear pain
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sensations of ear fullness
- Diminished hearing
With all these symptoms in common, it’s not surprising that people might confuse the two conditions. Especially if you have a history of ear infections, you might jump to the conclusion that you have another ear infection.
But it’s important to look for symptoms that can distinguish between these two conditions.
If you have an ear infection, you’ll know it because:
- You are recovering from a recent illness
- You have a fever or localized warmth in the ear
- There’s discharge coming from your ear
If you haven’t been sick recently–or aren’t sick now–then you probably don’t have an ear infection. Fever is a dead giveaway of some kind of infection. TMJ won’t cause discharge from your ears, so that’s a definite sign of an infection. Remember: discharge may come from your outer ear or through your eustachian tubes.
But TMJ is more likely if:
- Your doctor says you don’t have an ear infection
- The symptoms don’t resolve on their own
- The symptoms don’t respond to antibiotics
- You have other TMJ symptoms like jaw sounds or tooth wear
- Your symptoms seem to flare up after intense jaw activity
If you think you have an infection, you may not go to a doctor because viral infections tend to clear up on their own. But if symptoms persist and your doctor either clears you or gives you medication that doesn’t help,it’s time to consider that TMJ may be the cause of your ear symptoms.
This is when you should consider what other TMJ symptoms you may have. Jaw sounds, jaw pain, and tooth wear are all clear indicators that TMJ could be causing your problem. Another giveaway is that your symptoms come on when you work your jaw hard. This may be chewing a tough meal, talking a lot, talking loudly, or clenching your teeth due to stress.
If this sounds like your ear symptoms, then it’s time to talk to a TMJ dentist like Dr. Chris Hill in St. Louis. Please call (314) 678-7876 (Downtown St. Louis) or (314) 678-7876 (Clayton) today to schedule an appointment at City Smiles.
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Temporomandibular Joint and Tinnitus – Tinnitus Neuro-Tinnitus Treatment
17 Apr 2019 News, Causes of subjective tinnitus ah, no proof needed. The same goes for neck problems. Tinnitus is often caused by injuries to the jaw and neck, which we successfully ignore in our youth. But then, when talking, chewing, turning and tilting the head begin to cause tinnitus, many seek medical help. And they do exactly the right thing. Modern medicine has many opportunities to save such patients from annoying and annoying tinnitus.
Contents of the article:
- 1 Features of the TMJ
- 2 How does the pathology of the TMJ manifest itself?
- 2.1 Diagnosis: where and by whom?
- 3 How to treat?
- 4 Neck problems and tinnitus
The temporomandibular joint is a complex articulation that allows the jaw to move not only up and down, but also sideways. In addition, it is controlled by the most powerful muscles of the human body – chewing.
Problems with it can be different:
- dislocation of the fibrous disc inside the articular cavity;
- injury of articular surfaces;
- excessive muscular effort applied to the jaw;
- arthritis, as a manifestation of systemic pathology and arthrosis, as a result of wear and tear of the joint;
- infectious processes spreading to the TMJ from the ENT organs, the mastoid process.
How does TMJ pathology manifest itself?
Typical symptoms for the problems listed above are pain when opening the mouth and tinnitus. The reason for the first is clear: swelling of the capsule, friction of the articular heads. As for tinnitus, things are a bit more complicated here.
First, the masticatory muscles are located next to the muscle fibers that control the structures of the middle ear. Therefore, the excessive tone of the masticatory muscles affects hearing, contributes to the appearance of tinnitus.
Secondly, in the pathology of the TMJ, small ligaments that go from the joint to the auditory ossicles of the middle ear may be involved in the process. Comments are superfluous.
Thirdly, the nerve centers that control the work of the temporomandibular joint are closely connected with the parts of the brain responsible for hearing and interpreting sounds. If one system suffers, then the function of the second is also impaired.
In addition, when the joint is dysfunctional, it begins to make sounds on its own.
And quite characteristic: clicking with each opening and closing of the mouth, creaking, even grinding. Very annoying and stressful condition.
Diagnostics: where and who?
For most patients, it is enough to see a dentist. But it is also worth preparing for instrumental additional examination: X-ray, CT, and sometimes MRI.
In modern conditions, it is even possible to do arthroscopy: to examine the state of the temporomandibular joint with the help of a microcamera inserted into its cavity.
How to treat?
In many cases, TMJ problems are helped by simple recommendations:
- switch to a soft food diet;
- relaxation exercises for chewing muscles;
- use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
- people with bruxism (teeth grinding at night) should have a special mouth guard fitted.
But sometimes, in order for the noise to finally subside, one has to resort to surgery and even prosthetics of individual structures of the joint.
Neck problems and tinnitus
The cervical spine is very vulnerable, especially in case of an accident. It is also prone to inflammation and osteochondrosis.
Regarding common diseases of the cervical region, we have a separate article on our website (opens in a new tab).
Read about the pathology of the cervical spine
Tinnitus associated with neck pathology is often accompanied by psycho-emotional disorders (depression), cognitive (poor memory, difficulty concentrating) and somatic (dizziness) disorders.
Naturally, in order to help such patients get rid of tinnitus, it is necessary to establish the source of the problem as accurately as possible, for which the entire arsenal of techniques (X-ray, CT, MRI) is used. And only after a complete examination, it is possible to draw up an algorithm for the treatment of a particular patient.
The Tinnitus Neuro clinic has everything you need for professional assistance to people with cervicogenic tinnitus: call us 8-495-374-92-03 or contact us through the website.
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Cracking and pain in the ear area (temporomandibular joint disease)
Cracking and pain in front of the ear is an abnormal function of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
The TMJ is the most complex joint in our body. Analogues in nature, i.e. animals, no. Therefore, it is impossible to simulate a human model of the disease. Consequently, the study of this pathology (disease) takes place on a sick person.
Cracking and clicking in the joint, pain during chewing and at rest, often accompanied by a headache in the temple. This is due to the fact that the same nerve – ear-temporal – innervates the TMJ and the skin of the temporal region. Pain in the joint is due to inflammation of the joint capsule, and crunching and clicking – stretching of the ligamentous apparatus of the joint. This stretch occurs gradually and imperceptibly, and often results in chronic reducible dislocation and subluxation of the mandible.
When dislocated, a person may feel the head of the lower jaw jumping forward, the mouth can open by 5, 6 or 8 cm, at a rate of 3.5-4 cm. Sometimes, when the mouth is opened wide, the jaw jams and the person has to swing the lower jaw by the chin to set the jaw and close the mouth.
CT scans show deformity of the mandibular head, either due to abnormal bone growths or resorption of the mandibular head. In some patients, the head resolves to half its height, the branch of the lower jaw is shortened and pulled up by the muscles. The front sections of the jaw drop, and the front teeth stop closing – nothing can be bitten off.
Magnetic resonance imaging clearly shows the displacement of the intraarticular disc and head of the mandible. Abnormal displacement of the disc causes pathological changes in the joint.
Orthopedic dentists offer bulky splints and restraints that need to be worn for 2-3 years to treat such patients. This is very inconvenient and harmful to the entire dental system. Gnathologists offer to grind teeth in several steps. Some dental surgeons, by injecting a pressurized saline solution into a joint, hope to correct an overly displaced articular disc. Others do complex 4-hour operations under anesthesia to close the joint capsule or shorten the disc ligament.