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EAR PAIN   Most times when children complain of ear pain they have a middle ear infection. There are times when ear pain comes from other causes. Otitis externa is caused by infection and inflammation of the external ear canal. This condition requires eardrops for treatment. Sore throat or an irrupting tooth can also cause ear pain. Sometimes ear pain can result from sleeping on the ear.

Another cause of ear pain in children is a condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. As shown in the diagram, the TMJ attaches the mandible or jaw to the skull and is in front of the external ear canal. One of the symptoms of this problem is ear pain. The pain results from spasms of the muscles that attach the jaw to the skull. This pain can be severe. It is an intermittent pain, lasting about five minutes and occurring three or four times a day. It is usually worse in the morning. Sometimes the grinding of teeth can cause this condition. Other associated symptoms include stuffiness or clicking in the ear or headaches. Your child may have had recent dental work. The condition is more common in adults but it can affect children. Children are usually over six years old. Boys and girls have this problem with equal frequency. Your dentist is the person to treat this condition.

The cause of ear pain may not be obvious. Examination can often determine the cause. Once I know the reason for the ear pain I can treat your child.

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