Can an Ear Infection Cause Tooth Pain?

woman holding head wincing in pain

Can an Ear Infection Cause Tooth Pain?

When your teeth start to hurt, you may assume that you’ve developed a cavity or other dental problem. But tooth pain can actually have a variety of causes, and they don’t all stem from tooth decay. If you’re also experiencing ear pain—especially if only on one side—then an ear infection could actually be the cause.

However, toothaches from decay can also lead to ear pain, so they should never be ignored. It’s important to find out what is causing the pain so you can get the right treatment. Below, we explore the connection between ear infections and tooth pain. 

How Can an Ear Infection Cause Tooth Pain?

When the middle ear becomes infected, the inflammation and pressure can cause pain that radiates out to the teeth and jaw. This is known as referred pain—the ears, teeth, and jaw, are situated so close to each other that pain from one area can actually be felt in other areas. Typically, tooth pain from an ear infection can be felt in the upper back teeth. 

Ear Infection Symptoms

If your tooth pain is caused by an ear infection, you may also notice several of these other symptoms in addition to the toothache:

  • Ear pain that gets worse when lying down
  • Pressure or fullness in the ear
  • Itchiness in and around the ear
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing
  • Fever (this symptom is more common in young children, but it can affect adults as well)

Ear Infection Treatment

For most adults, an ear infection will go away on its own within three days. However, it’s important to see your doctor if your symptoms last longer than three days, because you may need antibiotics to clear up the infection.

You can find some relief in the meantime with several at-home remedies, such as alternating hot and cold compresses, taking over-the-counter pain medication, and sleeping with your head elevated. 

Of course, it’s always possible to experience a dental problem and an ear infection at the same time. If your tooth pain persists after the ear infection is gone, make sure to visit us right away for an exam. 

Can a Toothache Cause Ear Pain?

Just like ear pain can be referred to the teeth, tooth pain can also sometimes be felt in the ears. If the pain feels localized to one tooth, it’s likely that the discomfort is due to a dental problem, even if you’re also suffering from ear pain. 

Toothache Symptoms

The symptoms of a dental-related toothache include:

  • Pain in or around a single tooth
  • Inflamed gums around the affected tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks
  • Fever (can be a sign of tooth infection)
  • Earache
  • Jaw pain

Toothache Treatment

A variety of dental conditions can lead to tooth pain, including tooth decay, gum disease, and infections. These issues only get worse if left untreated, and can cause serious damage to your teeth and gums over time. 

If your tooth pain doesn’t subside after a few days, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Treatment for toothaches may involve fillings, crowns, a deep cleaning, or a root canal, depending on what’s causing the pain.

Holistic Dentist in Prescott, Arizona

If you’re suffering from a persistent toothache and a dental problem is the cause, it’s important to seek immediate treatment At Prescott Dentistry, we take the whole body into account when diagnosing and treating toothaches. We can help you accurately pinpoint the cause of your pain so you can find relief. Give us a call at 928-445-1660 today to schedule an appointment. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/12/2023). Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels