Last Updated on September 23, 2022 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
There are a lot of dental conditions that cause ear pain. Any cause that generates pain in the teeth will radiate that pain to the jaw and, thus, to the ear. A cold or ear infection may also cause a toothache, among various causes and associated symptoms.
Patients seek pain relief, and most want to know the origin of it. To manage tooth pain, you can use home remedies or over-the-counter medications. But, so it doesn’t worsen, it should be checked by a doctor and dentist as soon as possible.
Oral health greatly affects functional capacity as it interferes with sleep, mood, eating, work, and one’s social life.
A review of the possible causes and symptoms of a toothache and an earache will say how to differentiate them.
Why are the mouth and the ear connected?
The set of body structures that make up the trigeminal system includes the ear, eyes, nose, meninges, and mouth, which connect the jaw and molars. All these are connected by a sensory nerve with three points or arms, connecting the head and face. This helps sensory information travel for touch, pain, and temperature.
This system can result in an ear infection that generates a toothache or vice versa since the paranasal sinuses are very close to the upper teeth. If they become inflamed or infected, it will put pressure on the teeth, which is then reflected in pain.
It is important that any dental or ear infection be treated as soon as possible since it can spread to any part of the system and end up affecting any of the basic senses.
Dental Conditions that cause ear pain
TMJ dysfunction affects approximately 10 million Americans. When the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are not positioned, the problem develops. TMJ condition patients feel jaw pain, facial discomfort, worn teeth, popping jaws, tinnitus, and earache.
It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of a person’s TMJ condition. Your pain could be caused by various factors, including heredity, arthritis, or a jaw injury. Some patients with jaw pain also clench or grind their teeth (bruxism), while many people clench or grind their teeth and never develop TMJ issues.
Poor Bite Alignment
Do you have the sensation that your teeth don’t quite fit together? Do you have difficulty speaking, or do you grind your teeth at night? It’s possible that you have a misaligned bite. This is
also known as malocclusion, crossbite, overbite, or underbite.
Even mild jaw misalignment can cause pain and stress to spread toward the ear. Dr. Mateja can repair misaligned teeth with cosmetic or restorative treatments. Poor bite alignment, if left untreated, can result in chipped or damaged teeth.
Bruxism is more than a cause of worn teeth. Teeth grinding can cause tinnitus and ear pain, among other symptoms. It is because the temporomandibular joints neighbor the sensitive middle and inner ear. Any problem that develops in the jawbone can radiate to the ears.
Generally, a toothache is due to poor dental hygiene and, over time, causes gum disease and cavities, among other conditions. It is often due to the accumulation of plaque and bacteria, which generate acid, causing a weakened tooth. Yet, other health problems can radiate pain to other parts of the body, causing developing orofacial pain.
For example, pain around the tooth and jaw may be symptoms of heart disease, such as angina. If there is any suspicion, given the patient’s medical history, it is best to see a doctor promptly.
Root Canal Infections
A root canal procedure is done to remove the pulp of a tooth that has become infected or wounded as a result of dental decay or other traumas. The pulp of the tooth is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. These can become inflamed or infected, resulting in an infected root canal. Although root canal infections are rare, a tooth can become infected even after the surgery. Root canal therapy can save teeth and is quite safe.
How to differentiate tooth pain from an ear pain
Making a comparison, it is evident that there are similarities in the manifestation of symptoms of ear pain and tooth pain. Headaches are most often associated with a toothache: generally, when the pain involves a tooth and the ear, the headache is associated with a dental problem.
A cold or flu: when proper care is not taken, or the pain is very sharp, and an infection can develop in the paranasal sinuses, which manifests as an earache. Medical history is very important. A diagnosis must consider the person’s eating habits, routine care, oral hygiene, and clinical and/or pathological history. It will provide guidance as to where the pain could possibly originate.
Treatment to relieve pain in the trigeminal nerve
The trigeminal nerve is responsible for sending sensations from your face to your brain. Aside from their main purpose of making you feel things, they also help with some facial activities such as biting, chewing, speaking, and swallowing. At any sign of fever, difficulty breathing, swallowing, or red gums, emergency dental or medical assistance is recommended.
Pain can be managed by a health professional with the following suggestions:
- Medicinal plants or essential oils can help the pain (cloves, eucalyptus, ginger, and guava leaves, among others.)
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are useful for minor pain.
- Anesthetic pastes and gels (benzocaine) are usually used for localized toothache that interferes with sleep.
- Application of heat or cold with compresses
Do not take a toothache or earache as something normal, no matter how mild. Get a checkup with your trusted doctor or dentist. Keep in mind that the pain could become more intense, thereby interfering with your daily life.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Island Family Dental as well as our Facebook page. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Saint Paula, Venture, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you towards the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
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