When Dental Issues are the Problem
Not everyone presenting with ear pain has the same underlying issue, but there are often times when a dental issue is causing swelling, inflammation, or other discomfort in adults. The most common types of medical issues related to the teeth and jaw include:
TMJ Disorders: The temporo-mandibular joint, or TMJ, is responsible for connecting the jaw to the temporal bones found in the skull. When functioning properly, the TMJ allows the jaw to move in a variety of ways. However, a problem with this joint may lead to a TMJ disorder, causing pain that begins in the jaw but then may subsequently travel to the area around the ears. Individuals who clench their teeth during the day or grind the jaw at night may experience TMJ-related pain that can be misdiagnosed as a problem with the ears.
Acute Apical Abscess: When the tip of a tooth’s root becomes infected and inflamed, an acute apical abscess is diagnosed. Infections that last for a long period of time without being treated are the most likely cause of this uncomfortable medical issue, but trauma to the tooth, a fracture, an untreated cavity or a failed restoration of the teeth may also be the cause. Should the infection travel to the jaw, a patient’s nerves may relay pain signals to the area around the ears.
Sinusitis: A sinus infection, referred to as sinusitis, affects the cheeks, jaw, and in some cases the ear of patients. When fluid accumulates in the sinus cavities and becomes infected, pressure is placed on the cheek and jaw bones that can then radiate to the ears.
Myalgia: Sore jaw muscles, collectively known as myalgia, can be caused by a variety of issues, including injury, dental procedures, or overexertion. If the pain remains untreated for some time, the nerves could carry signals to the ears leading to a missed or delayed diagnosis.
Trigeminal Neuralgia: When patients experience sudden, usually temporary yet severe facial pain, trigeminal neuralgia may be the cause. When this issue arises, compression of the trigeminal nerve is in play, most often due to a blood vessel putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve in the skull. Individuals may have pain for short periods of time for days, weeks, or months, but it is often debilitating when it takes place.
A Chance of Misdiagnosis
Dental problems that cause pain to the ear can be the result of one or several underlying conditions, but the potential for misdiagnosing the real issue at hand is high. A solicitor for a leading medical negligence firm that works with several ear, nose and throat cases each year explains that the reason for misdiagnosis lies in where pain presents. The nervous system in the human body is highly complex and interconnected, and so pain signals from the mouth or jaw can quickly travel to the area surrounding the ear. For instance, an ear infection may be the initial diagnosis when an individual complains of ear discomfort, but any one of the dental issues listed above may truly be the cause. When a misdiagnosis of the root cause of ear pain takes place, patients may be put on a treatment plan that does not address the problem at hand. Delaying the right treatment may result in ongoing pain or the dental issue getting far worse.
Although pain in the ear can subside on its own, it is beneficial for patients to receive the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment sooner rather than later. Remedies for ear pain related to dental issues may include applying mild heat to the jaw or taking anti-inflammatory prescriptions to heal an infection. Adults presenting with ear pain can recover quickly, but only when the true cause of the problem is known and treated.
Hey, I really learned a lot from this article. I never knew teeth and ear are connected. Now I know if there is pain around my ear and jaw, it might be dental problem rather than ear infection or something. I’ve shared this article with my family and they too appreciate it. Thank you!
11 September 2017