Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder) and tinnitus are closely related. Parts of our jaw are closely connected to parts of our ears, so it makes sense that the two can be correlated. Those who have TMJ are more likely to suffer from a case of tinnitus. Those with TMJ disorder say their tinnitus was louder, more annoying and more handicapping.
Successful treatment of TMJ and tinnitus can improve the symptoms of both. Here’s what you need to know about TMJ disorder and some of the common symptoms, ways in which it’s linked to tinnitus and how a hearing consultation can help!
What is TMJ disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder can lead to jaw dysfunction and other types of pain. This joint is responsible for chewing and moving the jaw from side-to-side and front-to-back. If this joint becomes damaged, you’ll experience difficulty chewing, clicking and locking of the jaw and limits on jaw movement. As a result, some people will grind their teeth in their sleep or when they’re stressed, causing even more pressure on the jaw.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder
Common symptoms of TMJ include jaw pain and tenderness, joint locking, headaches, neck pain, facial pain, tooth wear, pain around your ears and tinnitus. You may also notice you have a hard time chewing harder foods, hear your jaw popping or clicking when opening and closing it and your jaw may not open as far as it once did. In some cases, the pain you experience can be chronic.
How are TMJ disorder and tinnitus related?
Tinnitus is known to be worse in those experiencing TMJ disorder, as it can aggravate an already existing case of tinnitus. The chewing muscles are located near the middle of the ear, which may cause certain symptoms of tinnitus. There can also be problems with the ligaments that connect to your jaw and hearing bones, like the incus and malleus, that are located in your middle ear. TMJ disorder is also connected to the parts of the brain that help with hearing and interpreting sound.
When vibrations and pressure are changing near your jaw, you are more than likely to experience a ringing in your ears. The ringing may change as you open and close your mouth. Stress is also a contributing factor, when those who have TMJ disorder are stressed, they clench their teeth, putting pressure on their jaw muscles and teeth, thus promoting a ringing in the ears.
A hearing consultation can help
Dentists can diagnose TMJ disorder, audiologists can diagnose hearing problems and both can come up with treatment plans catered to your lifestyle. Occasionally, an MRI is needed to properly diagnose TMJ disorder. There is no sure cure for TMJ disorder, but there are some things that can help alleviate the pain. Certain medications, a bite appliance, physical therapy, acupuncture and stress management can help.
You may notice that, as you seek treatment for TMJ disorder, your associated tinnitus can be reduced. A hearing consultation will tell you the degree of your hearing loss. If you suspect that your TMJ disorder is affecting or creating tinnitus, it’s necessary to seek professional help. Contact us today to see how we can help with your tinnitus!