Common Conditions

Jaw and Ear Pain After Dentist Visit

Jaw pain after dental work can be common. Here's what you should know and what to do about the pain.

by Dr. Burhenne

Jaw and Ear Pain After Dentist Visit

Jaw Pain after Dental work Questions: Four days ago, I had two long crown prep appointments. Since it was a student dentist, things seemed to take a longer time than usual. Since then, I have had swelling in my face, pain in and around my jaw and ear that wakes me up at night. It’s quite painful. What is this, what should I do, and how long will it last?

Answer: Having your mouth open for so long and for so many appointments can lead to myofascial pain, TMD symptoms, and earaches. It may become difficult to open and close, and you may have stiffness upon opening and closing.

This stiffness can also be caused by an injection. If it was your lower teeth that were prepared for the crown, then the lower injection can lead to a condition called trismus.

Trismus is a muscle injury as a result of the injection path of the needle. Trismus symptoms are much like TMD symptoms. It might feel like your jaw muscle has a Charley horse.

I would treat this the same way you would treat a muscle injury. Read my article about how to treat TMD. The main idea is to let the muscle relax and heal by eating soft foods and using pain killers that are anti-inflammatory in nature.

Your symptoms should eventually go away but be aware that you’re probably a teeth grinder — teeth grinders have muscles that are already fatigued and damaged from overuse, making them much more prone to conditions like trismus. I see teeth grinders get this condition much more frequently.

Things do take a long time at dental schools, but they usually get done very well because of the supervision of expert faculty.

I’m not sure why you had two long crown prep appointments because usually it just takes one, however, I believe your pain is from being open for so long, not the procedures themselves.

Ask your dentist about trismus. He or she will be happy to talk to you about it and keep the time your mouth is open during appointments to a minimum.

Mark Burhenne DDS

read next: The Complete Guide to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD, TMJ)

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Dr. Mark Burhenne DDS


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  1. I have a brother with a similar situation. In his case, the temporary crown was too high and shape of the crown irritated his gums. He went back to the dentist who took the bite down and reshaped the temporary crown so as not to irritate the gums. After that he was fine until his next appointment to put in the permanent crown.

  2. I had a 15 year old root canal lower molar 19, I had the crown replaced 3 years back. I have had some sensitivity and pain once in a while. So early this year, dentist told me to see a Endodontist for retreatment for infection.
    Endodontist suggested that root canal was not done right so he did the procedure by making a hole in 3 year old crowne to work on replacement of the nerve area. But there was still big infection under the root canal. So the same day at night, I had severe pain and headache. After 2 days complaining of severe pain and sensitivity on left side including ear ache, I was given hydro condone 7.5/750 mg, one dose of that didn’t help with pain at all but sent me to ER, there they gave me antibiotics amoxicillin 875mg for a week every 12 hrs and Advil 600 mg. but my Endodontist thinks there is no infection and it would heal on its own. His partner saw me and suggested, I could remove the infection surgically. I am done with amoxicillin and now taking 5 day z pack 250 mg. pain is bit better but not fully gown . I supposed to go see general dentist for filling of the crowne. But I’m still concerned as my mouth stinks maybe due to infection or pus or sinus ??

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thank you

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  12. Sir,

    While removing my scavity teeth in bottom jaw (last teech), the right side muscular got tighted. Now my mouth is not open fully (2/3 only open). What can i do. Is it critical to open my mouth fully (or) easy.

    My doctor told, no need to take treatment for this, you have do some exercise. But still now ( more than a month) not open.

    Kindly give som suggestions…

    G. Amaran.,

  13. Hi,

    I have a tooth filling done 1 week before and 2 days later of filling I have done with cleaning also.Afyer those appointments I noticed pain on one side of my jaw ( which side where the filling was done). But when I am having cold water the pain goes away for 10 mints and it comes back again, then if I am having cold water again it supresses instantly.

    Can you please let me know why it is happening?

    • I don’t know all the facts, of course, but the suppression of pain on the tooth with cold water is one of the symptoms that alert a dentist to the possible need for a root canal. It’s unusual, but it could be a sign that the pulp in the tooth is dying and you could need a root canal. Ask your dentist about this.

  14. Hello, I’ve had a filling on the top left molar and 3 weeks after I noticed headaches strong ear pressure and pain in my face where the bone is went to my dentist again and had the molar removed due to being cracked up in the root so I noticed a day after fever and still headaches and pain in the face
    Can it be I may develop a bone infection where the yawl is? I’m really concerned I was prescribed 5 day antibiotics but still have the same symptoms

  15. teeth grinder. that is funny. I didnt clench or grind my teeth till the butcher here in texas gave me an injection so painful I was half out of the chair, did not lower the 3000 dollar crown properly and 2 months later am living off advil with little relief. you fail to mention if dr Mengele is your dentist the grinding and clenching can be the DENTISTS fauil. the word quack rightly comes from dentistry

    • I hope you sued the sadist
      they get away wit this shit too much
      they look at YOU like youre the crazy one when you
      say you have pain, very few if any will own up to their
      mistake of a bad injection

  16. there is anot a single attorney in Dallas area taking tooth dental claims thanks to the new laws for stattute of limitations. they wont touch it. reporting this bastard however to the md licensing board

  17. I can contribute to this conversation. My cheek hurt for a whole week. It was just the cheek. I couldn’t feel any tooth ache. The problem lies in the gums I think. The ache is a manifestation of the gum problem. I have the tooth PROPER god flossing morning and evening for 3 days and bled out so much. There was so much crap in there. Chicken, cornflakes bits. EWW. THe blood even stunk. It’s in your gums dude. go do a deep floss. My pain went the second day.

  18. After 3 years of root canal now I have pain in my jaw, which is just lower side of the root canal teeth, slowly it is paining, please suggest what shall I do.

  19. My name is Kristine and I had almost a 3 hour appointment with the dentist, it’s been over a month since I was in and I can barely open my mouth a half inch because it’s too painful. There’s no pain besides when I start opening my mouth. It makes it really difficult to eat and I’m scared this is a permanent thing. I had my wisdom teeth pulled on the left side the top and bottom. It seems like the pain is where the top and bottom jaws meet or whatever I’m not sure the vocabulary. I just am trying to figure out what is going on. Any information would be greatly appreciated thank you.

  20. I had a root canal and 7 fillings done within 2 days of each other. Its been three weeks and my jaw is still in so much pain here and there. I also have ear pain. My pain in my jaw isn’t just in the general area of the root canal its my entire jaw.
    Is this normal?

  21. I think trismus is what my mom is dealing with she went to get a crown on her bottom jaw tooth and has been dealing with pain for 2 weeks. My question is how long do deal with the pain before it goes away she does a lot of talking at work an we are in texas an it has been hot which just makes it throb. I need to fond her some relief she has been taking ibuprofen, but it would be nice for the pain to just completely go away.

  22. I had 4 crowns, 3 root canals and 3 fillings on 5 of my top front teeth. This took 5 hrs and 15 min. Since then my all of my teeth are super sensitive. I am 69 years old and I don’t ever remember noticing or being aware of my teeth touching or clicking together when they get close together. Also, when I chew, I am aware and feel my teeth coming together. The Dentist only worked on my top front teeth, but when I am just sitting around doing nothing, I am very aware when my teeth touch. It seems like I am banging them together. In addition, if I try to hold my teeth close together without touching, they will start rapidly clicking together. I suppose, over your lifetime, your mouth and your teeth perform their function without you noticing that they are touching or coming together when you chew. This highly sensitive awareness of my teeth and their touching or clicking is driving me crazy. When I had this procedure, I had to be given a round of injections three different time because it was taking so long the feeling kept coming back. Could the injections or the fact my mouth was open for so long be the cause of my situation?

  23. It’s two days now with pain hard to describe after a long appt. 3 hours. 50 minutes was waiting. the dentist was gentle but asst applied a lot of pressure down in my jaw that was very difficult to take.
    My neck, jaw, joint, and gums hurt. My whole head actually and face. I had a crown on right side and filling.

    I’m pretty sure it’s from the asst bearing too hard. Now I’m feeling exhausted. Ibuphrophen or migraine med isn’t helping.

    I’m going to see my chiropractor I guess.

    • I too have a sane issue after teeth cleaning is done my gums are hurt so badly don have proper alignment to chew food whole face pain and jaw ear pain tartar formation facial discomfort. Feels very uneasy. I am dying day by day from this pain. Any suggession pls.would help my problem.

  24. Had 3 extractions and a temporary bridge over two of them on the left lower during a 2 hour procedure 5 days ago.2 days after the procedure my left TMJ area has been excruciatingly painful with spasms and mildly swollen.Taking OTC pain meds.Hasnt gotten any better in 4 days-how long will this last?????

  25. I read your comments about jaw pain. I have had a tooth pulled but before that my jaw was hurting. I was on Anti-inflammatories and I penicillin before I got my tooth pulled my mouth was not open enough for a long period of time and I have been doing my and I have been doing my jaw exercises

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