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Dental otalgia

  • D S Kim (a1), P Cheang (a2), S Dover (a3) and A B Drake-Lee (a1)



Secondary or referred otalgia can represent a diagnostic challenge to the otolaryngologist. Collectively, dental disorders are the most common causes of secondary otalgia presenting to the ENT clinic, and may account for up to 50 per cent of referred otalgia. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction syndrome represents the most common dental cause of referred otalgia. Decay and pulpal inflammation of posterior teeth can also frequently present as otalgia. The common embryological developmental origin of both oral and dental structures and the ear is responsible for their overlapping sensory nerve supplies, and this explains referred otalgia secondary to dental and temporomandibular joint disorders. These disorders can be easily overlooked, resulting in unnecessary and costly investigations.


This review aims to give a succinct overview of common dental causes of otalgia, and to provide ENT clinicians with guidelines for performing a rapid and simple dental and temporomandibular joint examination, which will reliably diagnose or exclude dental otalgia.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mr Dae kim, 5 Dowles Close, Selly Oak, Birmingham B29 4LE, UK. E-mail:


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Dental otalgia

  • D S Kim (a1), P Cheang (a2), S Dover (a3) and A B Drake-Lee (a1)


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