Facial pain can have non-dental causes, but ear and jaw pain – especially in the area of the joint just below the ear – is often a sign of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
When Ear And Jaw Pain Indicates TMJ
Also known by its older term, TMJ, this condition is divided into three broad categories, as noted in the Journal of Orofacial Pain:
- Pain and functional issues directly related to the joint itself.
- Pain from the muscles supporting the head and neck.
- Pain from a physical derangement in the area of the joint.
There is no recognized dental specialty for TMD and TMJ. Some universities have formal training programs for dentists most involved in facial pain. Many dentists pursue this area out of patient needs that demand proficiency in treating these problems. Depending on the complexity of your condition, however, multiple dentists with different skills may be required.
It's not unusual to experience an acute episode of TMD, which can result in limited jaw opening, pain upon chewing, feeling that your teeth do not properly meet and head or neck pain that radiates to the ear. In some patients, the problem develops into a chronic situation. Chronic or ongoing pain can be difficult to diagnose and require more involved treatment to improve.
Conservative and reversible treatment should always be explored first, even for a condition that is deemed chronic. This may include just giving your body time to heal itself. Anti-inflammatory medications and a softer diet can follow. Nonetheless, a night guard may be needed if signs of clenching and grinding are noticeable as a potential cause of the problem.
Individuals who suffer from TMD still need to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent other dental problems from compounding the issue. To ensure you are recovering well, brush with Colgate® Enamel Health™ Sensitivity Relief, especially if your condition is related to grinding, which can wear your molars' surfaces over time. Rest assured there is hope for patients who suffer from ear and jaw pain, even if it leads to a temporomandibular joint disorder later on.
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.