Jaw and Ear Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Jaw and Ear Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment: A lot of us have often experienced debilitating jaw and ear pain, also known as mandibular pain or temporomandibular pain. While the pain can make it incredibly difficult for one to eat and even talk properly, the condition is usually harmless and chances are it will resolve itself in a matter of weeks or months, depending on its gravity. Jaw and ear pain, or mandibular pain, usually occurs unannounced and may cause one to panic, thinking that maybe the jaw bone got stuck or something similar.

In my case, the pain took about 15 days to disappear and I got to resume my normal life immediately after. However, it was not easy having to deal with it for two weeks and I had to be very careful not to stress the jaw even more than it already was with foods that required a lot of chewing, talking too much or resting my chin in the palm of my hand. But let me tell you about it.

Jaw and ear pain

I woke up one morning with a sort of clenched jaw sensation and experiencing quite a lot of pain in my lower jaw and ear area. Chewing, talking and any form of jaw movement was extremely difficult because of the pain. But the pain disappeared as soon as I closed my mouth and kept it shut. While my family would have loved to believe that it was a sign I was talking too much, the thing that caused my mandibular pain was not so mind-blowing.

The night before I got myself several bags of sunflower seeds and enjoyed them while I was working at the computer. The continous effort of trying to crack the seeds put a strain on my lower jaw and left it tense and hurting. As I suspected, the pain came from a nerve inflammation as a result of my constant, devoted chewing.

If you experience a similar pain in the jaw that leaves you unable to eat or talk properly, try placing a finger right below the ear lobe, where you might feel tension. Then open your mouth and you have found the inflammation point causing the pain. Gentle pressing might help alleviate the pain for the moment, but will not treat the problem.

Mandibular pain

Unless you have teeth alignment or existing jaw bone problems, experiencing pain in the area between your jaw and you ear is a sign of mandibular tension and possibly inflammation, called temporomandibular pain (it involves the temporal and mandible areas).




Most of the time, mandibular pain is a harmless condition brought about by similarly harmless actions. Here is a list of potential causes of jaw and ear pain:

1) Chewing too hard or too much.
2) Grinding teeth during sleep or while awake.
3) Jaw clenching.
4) Stress causing teeth grinding or jaw clenching.
5) Bad posture (resting your chin in your hand for prolonged periods of time puts pressure on the jaw).
6) Dental work that my alter normal bite (surgery, dentures).
7) Consuming hard foods that require a lot of chewing.
8) Injury (fracture, dislocation) or disease (chronic pain or fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, etc.)
These are rare occurrences.

Symptoms also vary from tension and pain to problems chewing and talking. Here are potential signs that accompany the condition:

1) Pain starting from the lower jaw up to the ear lobe (mandible pain).
Pain may also be experienced at the level of the cheek bone of the affected side.
2) Tension in the lower jaw or jaw becoming stuck.
3) Popping or clicking jaw.
4) Problems closing mouth, chewing and talking.
5) Tenderness of face muscles.
6) Teeth pain.
7) Neck tension and pain and headaches.
8) Buzzing or ringing ears.
Depending on the severity of the pain, you might be experiecing sleep problems such as insomnia.

While my experience with mandible pain was not very scary, I did have to take great care to ease the strain I usually put on my jaw and ear joint. And, luckily, I was back to my normal self in about two weeks. While the pain may take up to several months to completely disappear for some people, with a little luck and great care your condition might improve a lot faster. Here are 5 things you can do to ease jaw and ear pain:

1) Apply dry, warm compresses alternating with cold compresses for several minutes a day.
2) Eat soft foods: mashed potatoes, cauliflower, peas, etc.
3) Avoid screaming or talking too much and opening the mouth all the way.
4) Help relax the area by massaging it or moving it slowly.
5) Avoid chewing gum, eating nuts, seeds, bitting nails or spitting.
6) Correct posture by avoiding resting your chin in the palm of your hand.
7) Try not to clench the jaw or grind your teeth, if possible.
8) While I did not use anti-inflammatory medication, your doctor might advise you in this direction.

The area from our lower jaw up to the ear lobe is a sensitive one and excessive chewing, resting the chin in the palm of our hand all the time, eating hard foods that require a lot of chewing, clenching our jaw or grinding our teeth can put a lot of strain on it, resulting in mandible pain and difficult use of the mouth. So make sure you are doing all you can to prevent potentially debilitating jaw and ear pain.




29 Replies to “Jaw and Ear Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment”

  1. I am experiencing pain in my jaw and inside my ear when i close my mouth. It is painful and i am am wondering what has happened! I don’t know the cause, maybe i had to eat too much lately.
    So i was thinking to visit a doctor but now I’ll first take precautions and follow the guidelines for a week. I hope this go away. Thank you and for your efforts.

    • Hi, Aarav. My advice is that you go see a doctor anyway. It is always best to have the opinion of a medical professional, even if symptoms don’t seem important. Wishing you lots of health.

    • Hi, Mukesh. My advice is to make an appointment with your doctor and tell the doctor all of your symptoms, for example, the type of pain (dull, sharp, mild, strong or other) and how long you have had it for. Is it continous or does it stop? If you don’t feel pain in your jaw all the time, what are you doing when it does occur? Are you eating, resting your chin in your hand or doing anything else? Have you had recent work done at the dentist’s, have you suffered an injury to the jaw or face or have you been eating foods that are hard to chew? Do you notice or sense swelling in the jaw area? Make sure you tell your doctor everything and he or she will be able to diagnose you from that point on. Wishing you lots of health.

  2. Am currently feeling the pain when I move my jaw, it is accompanied with a sharp pain in the ear as if there is a swollen that has occurred in my inner ear. I think it is because I was always clenching my teeth together when am stressed. It had occurred before but left, now it’s back again. Maybe I should see a dentist for teeth guide to relax and prevent stressing my jaw. It’s really painful and scary now.

    • I think you maybe need to see a dentist and a family doctor or primary care provider (a medical professional with a more general training) to rule out other possible causes in addition to clenching teeth (infection, pinched nerve etc). From my experience, habits like clenching one’s teeth, bitting nails, playing with one’s hair, resting one’s chin in the palm of the hand etc. need to be unlearned and we can unlearn them only when we consciously make the decision to do so and keep to it. It’s difficult, but it can be done if we persevere. The advantage is that we can only benefit from such a decision further on. So, yes, the best thing you can do right now is to go see a doctor and a dentist and maybe make a promise to yourself to get rid of this habit so you don’t have any future problems because of it. Wishing you lots of health.

  3. I am experiencing this problem, the difficulty to chew food on the left side of my mouth. But it’s not getting pain. But I can’t chew the food completely. It is hard to open my jaw while eating. What can I do ?

    • Hello, Sang. I think you should go to the doctor. As you may have read in the article, there are numerous factors that can cause jaw and ear pain: sitting with your head in the palm of your hand, chewing food that is too hard, such as steak, talking too much and many, many other causes. So make an appointment with your doctor and he or she will know how to advise you on this matter. Wishing you lots of health.

  4. Hello sir. I’m having pain in my left mandibular region (temporomandibular joint area) for 4-5 days. Generally it doesn’t occur in resting. But when I suddenly clench my teeth or chew something, it happens from left side and I feel some pain in my external ear canal. Though I’m 3rd year mbbs student, should I take analgesics? And I dont have any swelling and any inflammatory signs over there. Give me advice as soon as possible. Thank u for ur time.

    • Hello, Hinali. Do you also hear a cracking, clicking or popping sound when you move the jaw? As for the pain relieving medication, only you can tell if you need analgesics for the pain. What I did when I had the same jaw and ear pain was eat soft foods that didn’t require much chewing like mashed potatoes, soft cheese, soups, mashed beans, mashed cauliflower, mashed spinach, soft boiled eggs or any food that is soft or can be mashed with a kitchen blender or food processor. I also avoided the cold and kept myself warm. I avoided grinding my teeth, clenching my jaw or any similar action that stressed the jaw even more like yawning or yelling. But I talked, slowly and calmly. I used talking as a sort of exercise for my jaw pain, so it would recover faster. My advice is to also see a doctor in order to rule out a possible ear infection. It’s better to be safe. Wishing you lots of health.

  5. Hi, I am suffering from the same symptoms but my outer cheeks are not hurting. I cannot seem to be able to close my mouth and my jaw is hurting. I am also having insomnia. What should I do?

    • Hello, Afreen. You should make an appointment with a doctor. Tell the doctor about your symptoms and if you tend to rest your chin in the palm of your hand, if you ate hard foods that needed chewing or other things that may have caused the jaw pain. Wishing you lots of health.

  6. Have ear and jaw bone pain, back of neck and side of head also hurt to the touch. I can eat just fine, I’m a retired Veteran. Miles from VA, it’s been Hell for two weeks.

    • Hi, Michael. My advice is to see a doctor soon because two weeks is too long to let symptoms like that go unchecked. Tell the doctor how it began, if the pain spread progressively to the back of the neck or side of the head or if it began together in all of these areas, if you experience any other symptoms (itching, redness, dizziness, you name it). I recently had an outer ear infection I thought was an allergy itch, and because I delayed treatment, it got a whole lot difficult to treat. So please see a doctor. Wishing you lots of health and hope to hear back from you with good news.

  7. I can’t chew well and also having pain inside my left ear for like a week now. Whenever I am awake from sleep I experience much pain with my left ear. Sometimes without talking or chewing I felt like there’s a fracture between my teeth and the jaw. What am I to do please?

    • Hello, Ezekiel. You should make an appointment with your doctor because you have been having the ear pain for quite a while now. The pain inside the ear could be a sign of an infection, otitis, which requires adequate treatment. Your doctor should be able to advise you best after seeing you. Make sure you tell the doctor every symptom you experience (where the pain is located more exactly, what kind of pain it is and other details). Also, try to remember if you did anything specific that might have lead to the jaw and ear pain, like resting your chin in your hand, cracking you jaw, eating hard foods, maybe an injury, feeling particularly cold after a bath, sleeping with wet hair or going outside with wet hair. Tell the doctor about every symptom you’ve been experiencing, but do make an appointment soon. Hope this helps.

  8. My friend was playing catch with a tender coconut and by mistake hit my front lower jaw. But my front jaw doesn’t hurt. My right jaw (lower side) and ears ache. I can’t open my mouth completely too. Is this something serious?

    • Hello, Sherlyn. It is possible for an injury like that to one part of the jaw to produce effects on the other one. I think you should see a doctor in case the coconut dislocated your jaw. A dislocated jaw causes pain and doesn’t usually allow you to close or open your mouth completely or normally. In any case, see a doctor as soon as possible, especially if the jaw pain persists or becomes more intense. Hope this helps.

    • It is a possibility, yes. Cold air can cause jaw and ear pain if it’s coming directly at one’s ear or head. Air conditioning in the car, for example. It always gives me ear pain. But it might be best to make an appointment with your doctor to rule other causes like an infection. Wishing you lots of health.

  9. I have injured my lower jaw last week while trying to catch a ball. My chin hit the ground. Got stitches inside my lower mouth. That’s healing okay, but my left jaw makes cranking sound when I try to open my mouth wide open or try to pull my tongue out and so on. Should I go to dentist to do an x ray to find the issue? I have no pain on the left side of the jaw. Your advice is appreciated.

    • Hello, Murali. I am sorry to hear about your accident. It seems the injury was significant since you needed stitches, but it’s great that it’s healing. However, you have to keep in mind that the lower jaw (the mandible) is a movable bone and, by nature, a complex structure. So it’s only normal that healing will take some time, maybe months, maybe a year. You should try and not stress it very much and limit excessive movements so you allow it to heal properly. Eating softer foods that don’t require much chewing might help with your recovery. And you might want to go see a doctor, not necessarily a dentist, and have some tests to get all the information you need on your situation. It can very much help you understand what to do to help your lower jaw heal faster. Hope this helps.

  10. I recently suffered an injury to the face and the next day I noticed that I couldn’t chew anything, just swallow. When I yawn it’s very painful, even my ear starts becoming painful. It’s been 3 weeks and now my teeth are so tender, that even when I use my tongue to touch them, it’s painful. My jaw also makes a cracking sound when I open my mouth and I have one sided headaches. Is it broken or dislocated? And do I go to the doctor or wait it out? Thanks.

    • Hello, Nora. Three weeks is enough waiting. It’s time you went to the doctor, so please make an appointment as soon as you can. It’s possible you have a jaw fracture, a dislocated jaw, but only a doctor can tell for sure after he or she examines you. Go easy on yourself by eating soft food that requires little to no chewing, avoid talking too much or unnecessary movements like opening your mouth to see if the jaw still makes the cracking sound. Wishing you lots of health.

  11. Hi, I think that I put an ear plug in too deep, now the past two weeks my ear hurts to the touch and my lower jaw hurts to open my mouth wide.

    • Hello, Patricia. Because it could have resulted in injury to the ear drum, it is best to make an appointment with a doctor soon. It is possible the pain in your jaw comes from the ear injury. Wishing you lots of health.

  12. My mom is also having jaw problem and difficulty talking and opening her mouth. Doctor gave her medication, but it didn’t work. She was told to have surgery. What can I do? She is having a lot of pain. Please give suggestion.

    • I am sorry to hear this about your mom, Divindra. If the doctor recommended surgery, then your mom might have to actually undergo surgery for the jaw pain. It is a valid treatment option for some cases of jaw pain and your doctor has surely based his or her judgement on valid medical evidence after examining the situation. There is nothing I can tell you because there are so many causes behind this type of pain and only a doctor can recommend the best solutions for his patient. Lots of health and quick recovery for your mom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*