Westminster dentist says, “let’s talk about ear pain when swallowing”

Do Your Ears Hurt When You Swallow?


Many times people will experience ear pain when swallowing. Your symptoms may include a dull, throbbing pain similar to an ear infection, or a sharp stinging pain in the middle of your ear while swallowing. You may also experience the feeling that you have water in your ear or experience an irritating ringing noise. All of these symptoms may be caused by a disorder in the jaw joint known as the Temporomandibular Joint, or better known as TMJ. Your jaw may be causing your ear pain when swallowing.

How can TMJ hurt your ears?

Ear pain is a very common symptom of a TMJ disorder due to the anatomy of your mouth and jaw in relation to your ear. Given the fact that your ear is located in the same vicinity as the jaw, it’s no wonder that it feels as if the pain is radiating from an infection inside your ear. Your Westminster dentist recognizes that with the jaw joint’s location in front of your ear, it’s easy to think that the pain originates in the interior of your ear and not from your jaw joint.

The TMJ joint is composed of a ball and socket allowing the bottom jaw to move for purposes of chewing, speaking, yawning, and swallowing. Swallowing is a reflex action, which occurs nearly 2000 times a day. This reflex action supports our bodies with the breathing process, alleviating chances of choking. We cannot escape the need to swallow, so when this reflex is accompanied by pain there is great cause for concern.

The Causes of TMJ Disorder

Your Westminster dentist knows that TMJ is a common malady affecting the jaw and its joint. Due to our lifestyles today, tension and stress are some of the most common reasons for TMJ. When you feel stressed, you tend to tighten the muscles in your face and jaw, along with clenching your teeth.

It’s a normal reaction to start grinding or clenching your teeth causing inflammation in the muscles and tendons. Inflammation from your TMJ disorder can also explain why your jaw may be causing your ear pain when swallowing. Poor alignment in your bite is another cause of TMJ disorder can be corrected with the help of your dentist.

Let Your Baltimore/Westminster Dentist Help

With x-rays and a thorough evaluation, your Westminster dentists can treat your jaw to help ease your earache and TMJ pain. We can check to see if you clench or grind your teeth. If you do, there are mouthpieces that fit over your teeth, which help to relax your jaw. This will help balance your bite, and protect your teeth against further wear. We will also recommend a soft diet with foods that require less chewing while your symptoms exist. For more difficult cases, there are other measures we can look into such as replacing missing teeth with dental implants of repairing broken teeth with dental crowns or bridges.

Learn More

Give us a call if you have any questions! Don’t let the pain of TMJ interfere with your life.  We’ll be happy to provide answers to your questions! For a start, fill out our online TMJ questionnaire, once you have a better idea of what’s happening with your jaw, your dentist in Baltimore/Westminster can help you find the best treatment to relieve your TMJ symptoms.

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)