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Can a toothache cause an earache?

I'm in my early 20's and I have a toothache that comes and goes - it has been this way for years, and I don't really worry about it. But this last time it started it was accompanied by a pretty bad earache on the same side of my head. Could these two things be connected?
Because of the complexity of our nervous system, sometimes pain in one area gets "referred" to another area. The most known example is when someone has a heart attack, sometimes people have pain in the left arm or jaw. In the case of a tooth ache, you can have referred pain to the ear. This is especially true if your tooth ache is an upper jaw tooth on the same side as your ear ache. These aberrant nerve signals are carried by the facial nerve in most cases but sometimes can be carried by the trigeminal nerve. Pain in the back of the throat can also be referred to the ear. Keep in mind that pain in the ear with an earache doesn't necessarily mean something isn't wrong with the ear because you can still have both ear problems and tooth problems at the same time. I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with you primary care physician. You may warrant a consultation with a dentist to take a look at your tooth ache. You may not get relief from your ear ache until the tooth is taken care of. Of course, you still should have a thorough ear exam by your doctor to make sure that there is no worrisome problems inside the ear itself. Good luck.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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