Your Earaches May Be a Symptom of a TMJ Disorder

Earaches can be disorienting and painful. Ear pain can really take a toll on your lifestyle. People who suffer from earaches often have to restrict their activity for their health. Earaches are a painful inconvenience and can limit your ability to fly on a plane, play sports, as well as inhibit many day to day activities. People who suffer from chronic ear pain may find that the earaches impede their lifestyle and diminish their quality of life. Previously it has been difficult to determine the cause of chronic ear pain. However, as we learn more about disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint, we find that many earaches are connected to TMJ disorders.

The Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry and their expert staff are heading the war against TMJ disorders. Patients seek our services to find relief from their TMJ disorders as well as the accompanying symptoms such as headaches and earaches. Our experience has put us in a prime position to help people who suffer from TMJ disorders. Techniques used by our staff have proven to greatly reduce and even eliminate TMJ problems.

What are TMJ Disorders?

A TMJ disorder affects the temporomandibular joint. This joint is located right in front of your ear. It connects your lower jaw to the side of the skull. The temporomandibular joint is comprised of muscles, ligaments, bones, as well as cartilage disks. All of these parts work together to provide a large range of movement to your jaw. It controls your ability to move your jaw forward, side-to-side, and backward. It aids in your chewing, talking, smiling, laughing, yawning, and many other activities.

Problems with the temporomandibular joint are referred to as TMJ disorders. These disorders lead to the malfunction of the joint. In turn, this causes significant pain to the people who suffer from TMJ disorders. The pain can vary in type and intensity from a dull, constant pain to a sharp, burning pain. Occasionally people who suffer from disorders of this joint will experience spasms in the surrounding muscles.

Symptoms are most noticeable when talking, chewing, yawning, or swallowing. However, many people also experience additional symptoms such as headaches and earaches. When there’s a problem with the temporomandibular joint, the tissues surrounding the joint are impacted. This means you could feel pain on the side of your head and neck, as well as in your cheek and lower jaw. Ear pain is also common and usually joined by a clicking noise or grating sensations.

There are three primary categories of TMJ disorders. Myofascial pain is an aching, deep pain in the muscles surrounding the joint. Derangement of the joint occurs when the jaw is dislocated or injured. And degenerative disease occurs when the joint is affected by arthritis. The most common of these three categories is myofascial pain, which is also the easiest to treat.

TMJ Disorders and Earaches

The earaches caused by TMJ disorders are treatable by treating the TMJ disorder itself. Treatments often include avoiding things that lead to flare-ups in the joint combined with therapy and dental appliances to correct the misalignment. A highly trained dental professional, such as those at the Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, can help you on the path to relief from TMJ disorders. Speaking with someone experienced in successfully treating disorders associated with the temporomandibular joint is the first step in taking charge of your life.

Preventing Earaches due to TMJ Disorders

In order to prevent earaches that are triggered by TMJ disorders you should first speak with your dentist. Talking with a trained professional can help you determine which activities you should avoid to prevent a flare up of symptoms. Often times, excessive chewing is the cause for excessive pain in the joint. It is generally recommended that you avoid chewing gum and other similar, difficult to chew foods and candies. Overuse of the joint can result in muscle spasms and pain.

Another common cause of TMJ disorder symptoms is an improper bite. This misalignment is exaggerated by additional factors such as teeth grinding, clenching due to stress, and other psychological triggers. Anything that puts additional pressure on the muscles in the area can cause an increase in pain, headaches, and earaches.

Injuries to the temporomandibular joint can also result in TMJ disorders. If you’ve sustained an injury to your neck or head then it’s likely that you may have jaw damage as well. Correcting any misalignment is a great way to help restore normal function.

Relieving Earaches and Other Symptoms Associated with TMJ Disorders

The treatment plan for your TMJ disorder will vary depending on the severity of your case and the cause of the disorder. There are ways to get temporary relief from the pain caused by TMJ disorders. Patients can use over the counter medications such as anti-inflammatory medications. Applying moist heat to the affected area also provides temporary relief. However, none of these methods will actually cure the condition. In order for long term relief, it’s best to treat the TMJ disorder directly.

A qualified dentist will be able to discuss your symptoms and help you find the underlying cause of your TMJ disorder. A dental appliance such as a mouth guard or other orthodontic treatments can help realign your bite and restore proper function in the joint. Severe cases may require more extensive treatment to restore function and eliminate pain.

It’s important to remember that a TMJ disorder is not something you have to live with. If you are experiencing earaches, headaches, and pain in your jaw joint then speak with your dentist. They will be able to help you on the path to recovery.

Call the Bethesda Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry at (301) 530-3600 for more information about TMJ disorders and their connection to headaches and earaches.