Ear pain is a very common symptom of TMJ. Most ENT physicians see patients everyday who come in with ear pain and think they have an ear infection since the pain comes from the ear area an this may or may not be associated with tinnitus. Whereas some do have ear infections others are surprised to hear they do not have anything wrong with their ears.
A very common cause of ear pain with adults is the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This is the joint located in front of the ear and very close to the ear canal and middle ear. It moves when we open and close our mouths. The TMJ is a complicated joint and has a complex array of muscles. ligaments, synovial fluid spaces, and bones that interact with ear. Often this pain will have lasted for weeks or even months and it can also come and go. Ear infection pain usually does not come and go. Patients often feel a stuffy or clogged congestion feeling in their ear as well. Eating and chewing is sometimes affected too.
Most patients who have ear pain from TMJ have a problem with the way their teeth meet together. Often it is compression of the jaw back against the ear when they put their teeth together that is the problem causing the pain. Ear pain due to TMJ issues can almost always be treated non-surgically by a dentist highly trained in TMJ treatment.