Experiencing ear and tooth pain on the same side of your face can be distressing. When these two types of pain occur together, it could signify an underlying issue that requires medical attention.
Therefore, this article discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatment of toothache and ear pain on the same side.
Tooth Pain and Ear Pain Together: Understanding the Relation
You may be curious to know how toothache and ear pain are related to each other. Our jaw joint and ear are closely linked, and poor oral health can cause pain in nearby body parts.
This type of pain is called “Referred Pain,” which means the pain is felt in one area, but the actual source of pain is in a different adjacent area.
Dental problems like TMJ, tooth pain, or ear infection often cause referred pain. For instance, lower jaw toothache and ear pain on the same side may result from tightening your jaw (TMJ) muscles.
What Causes Ear and Jaw Pain at the Same Time?
The following are the causes responsible for ear and jaw pain on one side, often causing tooth pain as well:
Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your jawbones to your skull, and disorders associated with this structure are known as Temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
TMD affects approximately 15% of adults, with the highest occurrence between the ages of 20 to 40 years.
These joints and associated muscles provide mobility to your jaw, which is necessary for daily functions like eating and speaking. However, when the TMJ muscles become tight or overworked, they can lead to pain and discomfort in surrounding areas.
If you are experiencing pain in your teeth, jaw, ears, or other areas of your face, you may suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
A tooth abscess can cause discomfort that spreads to the jaw or ear. Along with this, there is often gum inflammation or sensitivity in and around the affected teeth.
It is common for tooth pain to disappear temporarily and then reappear as discomfort in the jaw or ear. This is a sign that the infection is spreading.
An ear infection can cause severe pain in, around, and behind the ear, often spreading to the teeth, jaw, or sinuses.
Viruses and bacteria typically cause ear infections. However, the infection can also result from water or fluid buildup in the ear.
Along with the pain, people suffering from ear infections may experience additional symptoms such as fever, congestion, and lethargy.
Teeth grinding during sleep can create muscle tension and stress in your face, neck, and jaw. This stress can result in jaw pain, ear pain, and pain on the front or side of the face.
Jaw pain that spreads to the ear may result from an injury, such as a broken jaw or strained muscles. Seeking medical attention is necessary if a person experiences ear and jaw pain following a head injury, fall, or car accident.
Causes of Toothache & Ear Pain on the Same Side
Dental issues commonly cause tooth and ear pain on the same side. The tooth pain can be attributed to a teeth infection, cavity, or abscess, as the dental nerves are close to the ear nerves, which can cause radiating pain.
Sinus infections can also cause simultaneous pain in the teeth and ears. Inflammation and swelling of the sinuses can pressure teeth and ears, leading to discomfort. Other sinus infection symptoms may include nasal congestion, facial tenderness, and headaches.
Symptoms of Toothache and Ear Pain
Here are symptoms of tooth pain and later ear pain given below:
- Pain in and/or around the tooth
- Bad breath
- Inflammation of your gums
- Sensitivity when eating/drinking hot or cold things
- Fever (which is a sign of infection)
- Swollen glands
- Ear pain
- Trouble hearing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Jaw pain
- Loss of balance
- Drainage from ear
- Sinus issues
Know the Difference Between Toothache & Earache
Tooth pain and earache are different types of pain, and they can be differentiated based on symptoms and causes.
Differences Based on Causes
- Tooth pain is commonly due to issues with the teeth or gums, like cavities, gum disease, or a cracked tooth.
- On the other hand, earache is usually caused by an infection in the middle or inner ear, a blocked ear canal, or fluid buildup.
Differences Based on Symptoms
- Tooth pain typically feels like a sharp, throbbing pain in one or more teeth or gums. The pain can be persistent or come and go and may cause sensitivity to pressure and hot or cold temperatures.
- An earache is usually a mild and prolonged discomfort in the ear or near the jaw and neck, often accompanied by fever, hearing impairment, or a sense of blockage in the ear.
Treat Your Toothache & Ear Pain
Most of the time, antibiotics are necessary to treat infections, but additional medical interventions may be required in some instances of severe conditions like mastoiditis. Here are some of the medical treatments to deal with the simultaneous pain:
- Orthodontic treatment can be beneficial in straightening both your teeth and jaw alignment.
- A TMJ surgery can reduce your TMJ pain.
- You can get a custom-fitted device to prevent tooth grinding.
- Physical therapy can treat jaw injuries or manage arthritis better
- Fillings, root canals, or crowns can be a suitable treatment option for cavities
Can a Root Canal Eliminate Simultaneous Ear and Tooth Pain?
When a tooth decays or suffers significant damage, it can become painful and demand attention. This pain can be so intense that it may seem like there is an ear infection when in fact, the root cause is tooth pain.
The tooth pain and earache can be interrelated and may be caused by a cavity, crooked tooth, or trauma to the area.
The root canal procedure can permanently alleviate this simultaneous pain.
This procedure involves removing the damaged part of the tooth, cleaning the area, filling it, and then sealing the space left behind.
A root canal can effectively eliminate the pain and discomfort caused by the damaged tooth.
How You Can Relieve Pain At Home
If you are experiencing ear and tooth pain due to swelling, taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or Motrin can provide temporary relief.
Applying a warm or cold compress to the affected side of your face for 20 minutes at a time can also help alleviate the pain.
If you have a history of clenching or grinding your teeth, a bite splint or night guard can help relax the muscles around your TMJ and prevent future discomfort.
In addition, meditation, mindfulness exercises, massage therapy, and physical therapy can effectively manage TMJ-related facial pain.
Conclusion: Overcoming Your Toothache and Ear Pain
If you are experiencing pain in your teeth or jaw and ear on the same side, you are likely suffering from TMJ disorder or a sinus infection. Due to the proximity of your TMJ, teeth, ears, and sinuses, it is common to experience referred pain.
If you are experiencing intense pain that does not go away with routine home care, it is essential to consult your dentist or physician for a proper diagnosis and a specific treatment plan.