Ear problems that may include ear pain, a feeling of pressure or fullness of the ear, or ringing of the ear might have multifactorial causes. Surprisingly, they can also be dentally related. If you have bad teeth or dental problems such as tooth impaction and cavities, they may lead to ear and tooth pain. You are advised to meet your doctor if you are experiencing such conditions.
Ear related problems can cause many symptoms and a huge range of severity. The doctor who specializes in ears is commonly called the Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. If the symptoms are suspected to be dentally related, dentists and ENTs must work in close collaboration to diagnose and treat each case appropriately.
Generally, pain from problems that affect the roots of the tooth can manifest in the mouth, up the jawline to the ear, as well as over the entire side of the face. In addition, wisdom teeth located at the back of the mouth often become affected.
Bad teeth can affect your ears as the human jaw is actually related to the ears. The question is, how do the jaw and ears relate? The jaw and ear bones start out as one and the same during the development of an embryo. These bones eventually separate as the embryo grows. The tiny bones of the ears are the smallest bones in the human body and appropriately named for their shape which are the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). Besides, the movement of the hammer is controlled by a muscle called the tensor tympani. Amazingly, this little muscle is also responsible for controlling the vibrations of the human eardrum and protects the inner ear from loud sounds.
Therefore, since the ears and the jaw were so closely related in our embryonic development, the nerve
that controls the tensor tympani muscle happens to be the same nerve which controls human’s chewing muscles. Concurrently, any signals sent through this nerve can affect both the muscles of the ears and jaw joint.
On top of that, physically, both of our ears and jaw joints, which include our teeth, are located very closely to one another. Based on anatomy, the human jaw is attached to the skull by two joints just in front of the ears. The part of the skull bone which separates the jaw joints from ear canals is just a paper thin.
You can try to put both of your little fingers inside your ears and clench your teeth. You are most likely to feel the movement of your jaw joints as you clench or bite down. Hence, just imagine that if your jaw joints and teeth have some problems, they could disrupt the inner workings of your ear.
Furthermore, dental related ear pain can be detected by symptoms and usually felt in just one ear and feels very “deep.” The pain may travel down to your neck, temple, or to the back of your head. It is also usually triggered by any jaw movement. Some of the symptoms are as follows:
- Pain in the ears
- Ringing of the ears
- Ear pressure or sense of fullness
- Difficulty clearing ears, especially at high altitudes
- Excessive ear wax
Other than the symptoms above, other clues are:
- Sore or tender muscles around jaw joints
- Clicking sound in jaw joints
- Jaw shifts when opening mouth too wide
If you have any of the symptoms described, you are advised to meet your doctor. Further examination is needed in order to determine if bad teeth or dental problems are the source of your conditions. Take note that these symptoms could be signs of many types of ear problems.