What to do if your ear hurts when you bite down

Ear Hurts When I Bite Down (TMJ Dysfunction)

Chewing is an action that people do every day, but most of us tend to take it for granted until it starts to cause pain. It might also seem very odd that biting down seems to cause your ear to hurt. However, referred pain from your jaw joint could be the source of this issue. 

Referred pain is pain felt in one part of the body that actually originates in a completely different body part. One medical study shows that dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or jaw joint can easily be the origin point for the pain you feel in your ear when biting down. Physical therapists can treat your TMJ pain, and your treatment could include two specific TMJ exercises: 

  1. Relaxed jaw exercise

One reason your ear and TMJ might hurt when you bite down is overly tense jaw muscles. Physical therapists can show you many exercises to reduce tension in these muscles, and an exercise your therapist might recommend is the relaxed jaw exercise. 

How to do the relaxed jaw exercise

  • Sit in a stable chair with good posture. Make sure your ears are centered over your shoulders. 
  • Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. 
  • Slowly relax your jaw muscles and allow your mouth to fall open. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth as it opens.
  • Hold this stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. 
  • Return your jaw to the starting position, and then repeat these steps until you’ve completed them three to five times. 
  1. Resisted mouth opening exercise

Another reason your TMJ and ear might hurt when you bite down is weak jaw muscles. Therapy specialists can help you learn exercises to strengthen these muscles, and one such exercise is the resisted mouth opening exercise. 

How to do the resisted mouth opening exercise

  • Sit down in a stable chair with good head and neck posture. 
  • With your mouth closed, move the tip of your tongue so that it’s resting on the roof of your mouth behind your upper front teeth. 
  • Place one thumb on your chin.
  • Use this thumb to press lightly upward as you open your mouth. Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth as you do this. 
  • Close your mouth. 
  • Repeat these steps until you’ve done eight to 10 repetitions. Your goal should be to do three to five sets of this exercise daily. 

Advent Physical Therapy can help treat TMJ dysfunction

Are your ear and TMJ hurting when you bite down? Advent Physical Therapy can help you treat the TMJ dysfunction that could be the root cause of your pain. We’ll start your treatment process by having you come into one of our clinics for a complimentary screening. Then our team will build you an individualized treatment plan designed to reduce the pain in your TMJ and the referred pain in your ear.

Don’t wait to start getting our help with TMJ dysfunction. Contact our team today for more information about how we can help or to schedule your complimentary screening.