By Dr. Nicole Mariano
Every day people call their physicians thinking that they have an ear infection. Their ear just plain hurts. They miss work, change their schedule around and/or use sick time to rush to their doctor’s office. After waiting for the appointment and getting checked out, they find out they need to see their dentist because they have TMD, or temporomandibular joint disease. Many people are surprised and cannot believe this pain is not an infection.
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that opens and closes your mouth. It is located right in front of the ear canal. With the help of muscles, the joint slides the mouth open. Normally, the joint moves freely without pain, noise or discomfort. Sometimes, the joint is thrown out of alignment. The TMJ muscles adapt to this problem and brace the joint into a new position. If the joint is held out of position long enough, the muscles will get tired and become painful. Lots of times, this pain is found around the ears, causing people to think they have an ear infection. In reality, it is their body signaling that the jaw joint and bite needs to be helped. Long term, this is not healthy and can lead to permanent damage.
If this is you or you have had this experience, you are not alone. TMJ problems often show up as pain somewhere else in the body. This can be the face, back, neck or teeth. It affects millions of people every day. Luckily, there is something that can be done to help. A properly trained, dental professional can alleviate your pain and stop your issues from occurring again!
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the therapies available, call the office today and we’d be glad to answer your questions!