What are the Common Causes of Jaw and Ear Pain?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 March 2019
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There are many potential causes of jaw and ear pain, including injury, temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, fluid buildup, a toothache, and an ear infection. Grinding the teeth may also lead to pain in both the ear and jaw. Each condition requires separate treatment and the severity of pain may vary based on the underlying problem.

Most causes of jaw and ear pain relate to some type of injury or illness. Blunt trauma to the side of the face can lead to swelling and pain in the region. This may occur during a fall or sports-related accident or in an automobile accident. Treatments vary but may include medication or surgery. Many injuries heal on their own.

Another common cause of pain in the jaw and ear is a toothache. This can include nerve damage pain or problems related to tooth decay, such as cavities or gum disease. Swollen gums may accompany the soreness or a throbbing sensation may be present. A dentist or other healthcare professional can generally diagnose and treat pain related to tooth problems. Ear infections may also cause pain in the jaw due to a buildup of pus or fluids. Most resolve on their own without treatment, but sometimes antibiotics are prescribed if a bacterial infection is particularly serious.


Grinding the teeth and TMJ may also lead to pain due to pressure and fluid accumulating around the upper jaw and back of the ear. Mouth guards are generally the first line of defense in both cases. These are used to prevent grinding and clenching of the jaw and sometimes to realign the jaw line properly. In very severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Various conditions may also lead to a fluid buildup around the ears and jaw, and this can also lead to pain. This can be due to many factors, and it often goes away without treatment. Sometimes it is due to infection, but many times the cause is never discovered.

Anyone suffering from severe jaw and ear pain should contact a medical professional for a diagnosis. Since there are so many various causes for discomfort, a thorough check up may be needed to determine the reason. Some conditions have additional symptoms, and they may affect different parts of the ear and jaw, which can make diagnosis easier. Most conditions that cause these symptoms are treatable and not serious.


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Post 2

@raynbow- Custom-made mouth pieces are the best option if jaw and ear pain are because of TMJ issues. However, it is important to have these problems evaluated first to find the exact cause of the pain.

Post 1

I have experienced ear and jaw pain from TMJ problems, and a mouth guard has definitely helped me. However, I when I tried one that I bought over the counter, I didn't notice much relief.

I discussed my problem with my doctor who then referred me to an oral surgeon who took impressions of my jaw and made a customized mouth piece. When I started to wear it at night, I noticed instant relief in my pain.

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