In August, my dentist replaced a crown on my bottom right molar that is just beneath my ear. Within two weeks, I started feeling pain that radiates into my ear. Before my dentist replaced the crown, I had a little discomfort and a mild earache. It is much worse now. It feels like my bite is off, too. Two weeks ago, dentist took a quick look at the crown and said the problem is probably from a salivary gland stone. He told me to follow-up with my medical doctor. I have an appointment next week. But doesn’t it make sense that if the pain increased, it has something to do with the tooth or my new crown? Thank you. Gerald from Detroit
Thank you for your question.
Your dentist’s explanation about a salivary gland stone sounds like a quick excuse. It is not a reasonable explanation for the symptoms you describe.
What Is a Salivary Gland Stone?
A salivary gland stone is a hardened mineral or calcium deposit that forms in a salivary gland. Larger stones can block saliva flow.
If you had pain from a salivary gland stone, it would be in the soft tissue. And it would not radiate in your ear. Some salivary glands are under the tongue, and one is in the middle of each cheek. A stone may cause pain and swelling and get worse when you eat. Also, the stone would show up in an x-ray.
What Is the Cause of Radiating Ear Pain After a Dental Crown?
If you have a toothache and radiating ear pain after getting a new dental crown, your dentist should check the crown and tooth. The dentist should also check your bite and balance it as needed. Otherwise, in addition to the ear pain, you can begin to experience temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues, including headaches, neck pain, and jaw stiffness.
It is time for a second opinion with a dentist who has advanced training in occlusion and bite (the way your upper and lower teeth meet when you close your mouth or chew). The dentist will check your tooth for decay or damaged tooth pulp and ensure your crown fits correctly.
Dr. Duane Delaune, an cosmetic dentist in Metairie, Louisiana, sponsors this post.