For a person suffering from inner ear pain, the dentist is probably the last place they would expect to find treatment. In some cases, however, seeing a dentist about your ongoing inner ear pain could save you from months or even years of ear pain and costly antibiotics. If your family doctor or ear specialist has not been able to pinpoint the cause of your pain, it might be time to find out if temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD) could be causing your symptoms.
Why TMJ Could Be Causing Your Ear Pain
A few common causes of ear pain aside from trauma include ear infections, inflammation of the ear canal, and blockage of the ear canal. These complications call for the attention of a physician for treatment. Physicians may also check your parotid gland, a salivary gland just in front of the ear, which may produce stones that put pressure on the ear canal. If an ear, nose and throat specialist has ruled out the above causes of your ear pain, however, your trouble could be caused by TMJ.
The three bones that make up the inner ear are housed inside the temporal bone, which our jaw presses against. TMJ puts excess pressure on the temporal bone, leading to increased pressure within the ear. That pressure causes ear pain.
Another reason that TMJ can cause ear pain is because it puts pressure on the trigeminal nerve. This nerve controls most of the movement of the ear. Poor alignment of the jaw can cause spasms along the trigeminal nerve, leading to ear pain.
Ear pain may be accompanied by tinnitus, which is roaring or ringing in the ears that can have many causes (and frequently has no known cause). In the case of TMJ disorder, tinnitus is often caused by the pressure on the trigeminal nerve which can create tension on inner ear muscles.
Treating Ear Pain By Treating TMJ
Some ear, nose and throat specialists as well as family doctors will note TMJ as a possible cause of ear pain, but may be unable to treat it successfully. Visiting a TMJ dentist to see what treatment options may be best for you could be the difference between continued ear pain and the relief you are seeking.
To learn how you can get relief from TMJ and related symptoms, please call (303) 691-0307 for an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.