Ear and Jaw Pain: Causes and Remedies

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

There’s nothing worse than having to go through your day with a painful jaw and an almost constant ringing sensation in your ears. It’s common to experience pain in the ears and jaw when you’re ill, and it’s often accompanied by a headache. So, what’s the cause of this pain, and how do you remedy it? 

Ear and jaw pain is often caused by a TMJ disorder. Teeth grinding, arthritis, sinusitis, and other medical conditions worsen the symptoms. Other causes are migraine or ear infections. If the pain is mild, painkillers, tea, or light exercise may help. If the pain is severe, visit a doctor. 

Let’s explore the causes of ear and jaw pain and what activities may worsen your pain. We’ll also discuss possible remedies for the underlying conditions behind ear and jaw pain and when you should see a doctor. 

Why Do My Ears and Jaw Hurt? 

Sick african girl checking lymph nodes with finger

If your ears and jaw hurt when you’re ill, you probably don’t need to worry about it, as it’s quite common. However, if the pain persists or you experience regular flare-ups, an underlying medical condition may cause the problem.

There can be several reasons that cause you to experience mild to severe ear and jaw pain. These include temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, an ear infection, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, sinusitis, teeth grinding, and other oral and dental problems. 

Let’s break down each of these issue in detail:

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorder

If you have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, it’s usually one of the main reasons why you feel pain in your ear and jaw. TMJ affects your jaw joints and the muscles around it and makes your jaw more susceptible to popping and other issues. 

The TMJ is parallel to your temporal bone, which is an important part of your inner ear structure. So, when you talk or chew, the temporomandibular joint helps keep the jaw flexible. When you have a TMJ disorder, it makes your jaws stiff, and you may experience pain when you open your mouth. 

When TMJ disorders occur, it usually affects your hearing and speech. Eventually, you’ll feel pain in both sides of your jaw or ears. 

Ear Infections

An ear infection is another probable reason why you’re experiencing ear pain. Since the ear and jaw are well connected, you may experience pain in your jaws as well. 

Ear infections are caused by bacterial formation in or around either the inner or outer layer of your ear. They can cause swelling inside the ear, which may spread toward your jawline and cause pain when you open your mouth. 

Ear infections are caused by polluted water exposure to the ear, consuming unhygienic food, or working in a polluted environment. So, if you maintain personal hygiene and clean your ears regularly, you minimize the risk of getting an ear infection. 


Osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis, is another factor that may cause jaw and ear pain. It’s commonly a result of wear and tear of the cartilage that surrounds your TMJ.

Osteoarthritis can make the TMJ stiff, and you’ll experience significant pain when you move your jaw since there’s more pressure on your jaw joints. 

Rheumatoid or Psoriatic Arthritis

Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, commonly identified as autoimmune conditions, are forms of arthritis that affect healthy joints. 

When your immune system attacks your healthy joints, it triggers quick pain in your whole body, including your ear and jaw. This is a chronic medical condition, so it’s crucial that you treat it in its early stages. 


When you have mild to severe migraine, it may result in severe pain in your ear and jaw, and facial muscles. This will also be accompanied by severe throbbing in your head, making it impossible for you to concentrate on daily tasks. 

Since it’s a severe medical condition, you’ll have to visit a doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of migraine. 


If you regularly suffer from sinusitis, it may be why your jaw and ear is in pain. Sinusitis occurs when you have inflammation in your nasal cavities because of an infection in your nose. 

The infection gets worse when the air-filled space in your nose is filled with viruses, bacteria, and unwanted fluid. While you may deal with mild sinusitis, persistent sinusitis can worsen your ear and jaw pain.  

Teeth Grinding

If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, it can cause pain behind your ear and jaw. This often becomes a habit and may wear down your teeth, causing several dental problems. 

Teeth grinding usually occurs when you’re sleeping and often is related to anxiety and stress, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle and actively avoiding this habit will reduce unintentional teeth grinding. 

Remedies for Ear and Jaw Pain 

When you feel mild or severe ear and jaw pain, there are a few simple things that you can do for relief. If the pain is mild and isn’t caused by a severe underlying medical condition, you can easily alleviate it with therapy or a change in lifestyle. 

However, if you experience severe pain, you’ll have to visit a doctor or dentist. They may recommend medication, braces, or even surgery, depending on the underlying cause. 


Some over-the-counter medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, are prescribed to treat ear and jaw pain. These medicines often reduce the pain but don’t cure the underlying condition. 

If you have an ear infection or other underlying medical condition, your doctor may recommend antibiotics or other medication to treat the condition. Always complete the course according to the recommended dosage to prevent the illness from getting worse. 

Always visit your doctor before using any medication, especially for painkillers and other sedative medication. 


African Lady In Braces Pointing Finger At Teeth

If your teeth are misaligned, it may cause occasional jaw or ear pain. Dental braces are a tool to treat problems related to your teeth, like crowding and crooked teeth, and can help reduce the pain in the long run. 

While braces are expensive and it may take time to heal misaligned teeth, they are effective and you won’t have to deal with the problem in the long run. 

Decongestant Sprays

Decongestant sprays are an effective way to treat sinusitis and other problems related to your nasal cavities, which eventually will help lessen the pain in your jaw and ear. 

You use decongestant sprays to flush out unwanted fluid, viruses, and bacteria in your nasal cavities. These sprays are inexpensive, or you can make the mixture at home by mixing one teaspoon of sterline water, ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda. 

Improving Your Lifestyle

TMJ disorders, an inactive lifestyle, a tendency to eat unhealthy or sour foods, and poor sleeping habits can make your jaw pain worse. 

Sometimes, TMJ disorders can’t be treated, but you can reduce the pain or make the symptoms dormant through a change in lifestyle. 

If you want to reduce joint pain, try these tips:

  • Maintain a calcium-rich diet.  
  • Eat more soft foods. 
  • Try herbal medicines.
  • Perform jaw exercises.
  • Find ways to manage stress.
  • Don’t push your body to its limits while working.

When Should You Go See a Doctor? 

In the early stages of pain in your ear and jaw, it’s recommended to try home therapies and natural treatments, especially if the pain is temporary. 

However, you should see a doctor if the pain persists or you get frequent flare-ups. 

Visit a doctor if: 

  • You experience swelling in either jaw or ear. 
  • The infection gets worse. 
  • Therapy doesn’t have any effect. 
  • You become unable to eat or drink.
  • Your ear starts watering, which may be accompanied by swelling.
  • You have a persistent fever with jaw or ear pain.
  • The pain is interfering with your sleep. 

It’s best to go for a checkup, even if the pain goes away after a while since your doctor will identify the underlying medical condition causing the pain. 

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