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ears_figure_2Yes, believe it or not, sometimes we need to see the dentist for our ear pain!  Most people don’t realize how closely related the jaw is to the ear.  If you are experiencing symptoms such as the ones listed below, it could be due to a problem with your bite and the muscles that control your jaw.

  • Pain in your ears
  • Dizziness
  • Ear Pressure or fullness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Excessive wax
  • Difficulty clearing your ears

As developing embryos, the jaw and ear bones start out as one bone and only separate as growth progresses.  The nerve that controls the tensor tympani muscle is the same nerve that controls the chewing muscles. So, any signals that are sent through this nerve can affect both muscles.  Also, the jaw bone and ear canal are close in proximity to one another….only separated by a paper thin wall of bone. How will you know if your ear problems are dental related? Well, generally the pain you feel is just in one ear and feels very deep in the canal.  The pain may also travel down the neck, to the temple or to the back of the head.  It will be aggravated by jaw movement, such as talking or chewing.  You might also experience soreness in your jaw muscles, clicking or popping sounds, or shifts in your jaw from side to side when opening your mouth wide.  All of this could mean you have a “bad” bite.  This means that your upper and lower teeth do not come together properly to provide the right bracing support for your jaw.  Did you know your teeth must come together every time you swallow?  That’s over 2000 times each day and night!  If your bite is off, the muscles have to work harder, eventually tiring them out so they become shortened and stiff.  Over time, this may cause spasms that are even more painful.  If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your dentist right away. You might also want to see your ENT.

(source: MyoData, Tucson, AZ)