Most dental problems are diagnosed at a routine dental exam and cleaning. However, there are times when a patient develops symptoms that alert them to a potential oral health concern. One possible symptom of dental problems that people may not easily recognize is ear pain.
There are various dental problems that can cause ear pain, along with discomfort along the jaw and sinuses. Here, Dr. John Goodman goes over some of the dental problems that are most commonly known to cause ear pain so that our Kansas City, MO, patients understand when it may be time to schedule an appointment to learn about restorative dentistry treatments to address dental complications.
Dental cavities are small to moderate areas of tooth decay that destroy the outer layer of tooth enamel. Symptoms of dental cavities tend to vary from one patient to another. Some patients do not notice any change in the way their teeth feel, while others experience general discomfort, localized pain, heightened tooth sensitivity, or even ear pain.
If tooth decay is not treated in a timely manner, more tooth enamel will become damaged. Eventually, large areas of decay can allow bacteria to work their way to the center of the tooth where nerves and other sensitive tissues reside. When bacteria reach the pulp of a tooth, tissues can become inflamed and an infection may develop.
An infected tooth is likely to cause general discomfort. As surrounding tissues become inflamed, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where the pain is coming from. Many of our Kansas City patients who have developed a tooth infection experience pain along the jaw, within the sinuses, or in the ear on the side of the infection.
TMJ disorder is another common cause of ear pain. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects the skull to the jawbone. If this joint is not aligned properly or if it becomes inflamed, patients can develop symptoms of TMJ disorder.
TMJ disorder makes it more difficult to fully open and close the jaw. Patients with TMJ disorder may hear a click or pop when they open the mouth, and they may even find that their jaw occasionally locks into place. Other potential symptoms of TMJ disorder include headaches, facial pain, jaw pain, and ear pain.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
The wisdom teeth are the third molars that develop on either side of the top and bottom jaw. In many cases, the jaw cannot accommodate wisdom teeth, so they become impacted, meaning that they don’t erupt from the gum line.
Impacted wisdom teeth may not always be a concern, but in some cases, they put pressure on the teeth, jawbone, and sinuses. If our Kansas City patients are experiencing pain around the back molars or if they have pain that radiates to the jaw and ears, it may be a sign of impacted wisdom teeth.
If you are dealing with persistent ear pain and an earache has already been ruled out, it is time to consider whether a dental problem may be causing your discomfort. To schedule an appointment with Dr. John Goodman, contact us at your earliest convenience or call (816) 842-8585.