Can a Toothache Cause Ear Pain? And What You Can Do About It

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Most people are surprised to learn how closely interconnected different parts of their body are.

Can a Toothache Cause Ear Pain?

Strained eyes can cause a headache in the same way an elbow injury can cause problems with your wrist.

So it is entirely possible that dental pain can also cause a great deal of pain in your ear. Through this article, you’ll learn what it means for a toothache to develop from an ear infection and what you can do about it.

The Surprising Connection Between Toothache and Earache

If you clench your teeth, you can sense tension around your jaw joint flowing into your ears.

The fact of the matter is that the nerves in the jaw and teeth areas sit closely connected to the ears on the same side. This means that when you have a pain originating in your mouth, you may also feel like you have an earache.

Because of this dental and ear pain are closely linked together. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, impacted wisdom teeth, or even severe cavities can lead to pain that can be felt both in the teeth and ears.

How Can A Toothache Cause Ear Pain?

Pain originating from dental problems can lead to discomfort that extends beyond the mouth. This phenomenon is called “referred pain ”.

Nerve pathways and their impact on toothache and ear pain

Our teeth reside very closely to our ears. The main nerve runs from the upper and lower jaw, around the jaw joint, and into the head region, ultimately connecting to the spinal column. This nerve is known as the trigeminal nerve.

When the source of pain is the mouth, the pain travels through the nerve pathways to the ear which leads to pain in the ear. The pain can be dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing in nature.

Inflammation and its role in transmitting pain to the ear

Abscessed teeth can cause referred pain to flare up in the ear region. The ears are linked to the lower molars and wisdom teeth through the auriculotemporal nerve . Inflammation follows this path, sends pain signals to the ears, and spurs ear discomfort. 

If left untreated, tooth-related infections can also cause ear infections. Similarly, ear pain caused by an infection in the middle ear can also cause muffled hearing and pain in the neighboring teeth.

What Are The Causes of Toothache Leading to Ear Pain?

Many different causes may result in tooth pain that also extends to the ear. These include:

  • Temporomandibular joint disorders

The common cause of pain originating in the ear but extending to the teeth is ear infections. 

Infections of the middle ear occur in the space between your inner ear and the eardrum.

Ear infections

Ear infections can cause many problems for the patient. Sometimes the pain caused by this can manifest as pain arising from the teeth.

What are the Symptoms of Toothache and Ear Pain?

Symptoms of a toothache

You may experience any of these symptoms if you’re experiencing tooth-associated pain:

  • Mild to severe pain in or around the tooth
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Neck pain
  • Fever
  • Earache\Dull or sharp pain in the jaw region
  • Popping or clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth

Symptoms of an earache

You may experience these symptoms if you have ear-originated pain:

  • Pain in the ear without an infection
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • Upper and lower jaw aligned improperly
  • Chronic episodes of headaches or migraines
  • Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus
  • Liquidy drainage from the ear
  • Trouble hearing
  • Loss of balance
  • Nasal congestion

What are some treatment options and remedies?

Before trying out at-home remedies for treating this pain, it is wise to get to the root cause and have it treated.

Addressing Dental Issues

For dental-related pain, you may require procedures like fillings for cavities, root canals for abscesses, and even tooth extractions for severe cases.

Addressing Dental Issues

You should see a dentist to get your dental problems dealt with before the infection spreads.

The intervention of ear problems

You can experience dental pain due to ear-borne problems. Treatment options for ear-related infections include antibiotics for infections, decongestants for sinus-related issues, and other treatments based on your specific diagnosis.

Home remedies

If you’re experiencing pain in your ears and surrounding teeth, you can try warm compression on the painful side of the face. Consider taking over-the-counter pain medications, if pain persists. You should maintain good oral hygiene to prevent further problems. 

Understanding Ear and Tooth pain

The first step is to determine whether the pain in your ear or teeth requires a visit to the emergency dentist. Once the cause of the pain in your ear or teeth is established, your dentist or healthcare provider can navigate the best approach to manage your symptoms.

The condition can be life-threatening if the infection from your ear or teeth enters the bloodstream. Visit your dentist before symptoms worsen.

FAQs

Can a sinus infection cause tooth pain?

Yes, sinusitis can cause tooth pain. Your sinuses are empty spaces on either side of your cheeks that connect to your nasal cavity. When these spaces become inflamed and filled with fluid, they can put pressure on your teeth, causing sinus tooth pain.

Can excessive buildup of earwax cause pain in the teeth?

Excessive buildup of earwax can form a hardened plug that blocks the ear. A blocked ear is not only painful but can also give rise to middle ear infections. If the infection worsens, you may feel pain in your teeth.

Can root canal infections cause ear-related pain?

When the soft dental pulp inside a tooth is infected, it can cause throbbing pain in the tooth and its surrounding tissues. This pain could radiate to the ear area if one of your back teeth is affected.

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