Is TMJ or an infection causing your ear pain?

Ear pain can be a symptom of many things, including ear infections, toothache, and even Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). So it’s essential to know the difference to get the right treatment. This blog post will explore the differences between ear infections and TMJ so you can get an accurate diagnosis and feel better. 

What Is an Ear Infection? 

An ear infection is an inner or middle ear inflammation caused by bacteria or viruses. Symptoms vary depending on the type of infection but may include fever, nausea, vomiting, hearing loss, and/or drainage from the ear. Doctors can diagnose through a physical exam and imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans. Treatment for ear infections usually involves antibiotics or other medications prescribed by your doctor. 

What Is TMJ? 

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is a disorder that affects the jaw joint and muscles in the head and neck area. Symptoms may include pain when chewing, difficulty opening or closing your mouth fully, clicking noises in your jaw when eating or talking, headaches, dizziness, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

A doctor typically diagnoses TMJ with a physical exam and imaging tests like X-rays. TMJ treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms. Still, it often involves lifestyle changes such as reducing stress levels, avoiding certain foods that are hard to chew or eating softer foods, or using over-the-counter medications to reduce pain. In more severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.  

 Ear infection vs. TMJ: 

Various things can cause ear infections, including viruses, bacteria, and allergies. Symptoms of ear infection may include pain, fever, hearing loss, ear drainage, and a feeling of fullness in the ear. TMJ is an acronym for Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, a condition affecting the facial jaw joint and muscles. Symptoms of TMJ may include pain or tenderness in the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and pain in the ears or face. 

The diagnosis of an ear infection or TMJ is for a TMJ specialist in Kansas City to diagnose. Your doctor can examine what is causing your ear pain and if it is an infection or TMJ. Treatment for ear infections may include antibiotics, decongestants, pain medication, and sometimes surgery. Treatment for TMJ includes physical therapy, medications, and surgery in more severe cases. 

Can an ear infection cause jaw pain?

Ear infections, or otitis media, are bacterial or viral infections of the middle ear. Symptoms might include fever, hearing loss, and pain in the ear. Pain from an ear infection can also radiate to the jaw and face, making it hard to tell if the pain is coming from an ear infection or TMJ. If you have ear pain and suspect an ear infection, you must see the kc dental doctor immediately to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Pain when chewing in the ear:

If you experience pain when you chew, that’s a sign that it may be TMJ. This is because chewing stresses the Temporomandibular joint, which can cause pain. One can also feel TMJ pain in the jaw, neck, and head. Additionally, if you have trouble opening and closing your mouth, that’s another sign of TMJ.

Is jaw pain a symptom of an ear infection?

No, jaw pain has no relation to ear infections. Ear infections usually cause symptoms such as earache, hearing loss, and drainage from the ear. However, jaw pain can be a symptom of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, a disorder affecting the jaw joints. TMJ dysfunction can cause pain in the ear, in and around the jaw, face, neck, and shoulders.

 Clogged ear and jaw pain: 

If your ear feels full and you experience pain in the jaw or a popping sensation when opening and closing your mouth, then it’s likely TMJ. TMJ occurs when the Temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the skull, inflames or suffers from misalignment due to arthritis, an injury, or a bad bite.

Pain and drainage from the ear: 

If you experience pain in your ear along with drainage, it’s most likely an ear infection. Viruses or bacteria are the general causes of ear infections and can be painful. Treatment for an ear infection typically includes antibiotics and/or a pain reliever to reduce the infection’s symptoms.

Can TMJ affect your ears?

The Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located near the ear, so pain and discomfort can radiate to the ear. TMJ can cause various symptoms, including clicking or popping sounds when you open your mouth, pain, stiffness in the jaw joint area, and pain radiating to your ears. If you experience these symptoms, you must see a doctor, kc dental, or TMJ specialist in Kansas City.


Ear pain can have multiple causes ranging from an ear infection to Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). It’s important to understand what is causing your symptoms so you can get proper treatment. Knowing whether it’s an infection or TMJ will help ensure you receive adequate care quickly so you can start feeling better soon. If you suspect that the cause of your ear pain may be something other than an infection, it’s best to consult your doctor for further evaluation and diagnosis.