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What’s the Relationship Between TMJ Disorders and Tinnitus?

April 18, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — drasinmaz @ 4:53 pm
Woman with an earache

A persistent or frequent ringing of the ears, often called “tinnitus,” is a condition that affects 50 to 60 million people in the United States. It is especially common for people over the age of 55 and is strongly associated with hearing loss. However, this isn’t the only reason you could be experiencing this issue. A less obvious cause of tinnitus is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD). Here’s how these two issues are related to each other.

What Is TMJ Dysfunction?

TMD is a condition that can affect the ability to open and close the mouth. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge to connect your jawbone to your skill. When there is a problem with the joints, muscles, and/or nerves of the jaw, one can develop TMD. Most of the time, this is caused by injury, but other factors can also contribute, like excessive strain on the jaw joints or genetics. Some painful symptoms of TMD include frequent headaches, neck pain, earaches, and tinnitus.

How Are the Jaw and Ears Related?

Your temporomandibular joint is named after two different bones: the temporal bone and the mandible. The temporal bone also houses your middle and inner ear, so when there is stress on that bone, it puts pressure on your ear. This type of pressure can sometimes result in tinnitus. Tinnitus can worsen as the temporal bone wears down from the jaw pressure.

How Is TMJ Dysfunction Addressed?

TMD causes chronic discomfort. However, there are multiple treatment options available to help you get relief. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • At-Home Remedies: Applying heat to tender muscles and cold to tender joints can help reduce discomfort and help strained muscles relax. By relaxing the muscles, tinnitus may be reduced.
  • Occlusal Splint: This small oral appliance is usually worn at night. This helps to protect the teeth from unconscious clenching and grinding as well as keep the jaw in a more relaxed and natural position, reducing symptoms, like tinnitus.
  • Equilibration/Occlusal Adjustment: When the teeth don’t come together properly, the jaw muscles may unconsciously try to force them into position. With an equilibration, small adjustments are made to the teeth so everything lines up. This reduces pressure on the TMJs and might improve tinnitus.
  • Orthodontics: If the TMJ disorder is caused by bite misalignment or malocclusion, using Invisalign or braces can correct the position of the teeth, therefore adjusting the position of the jaw. This can help to reduce or eliminate other ongoing symptoms.

Just because you have tinnitus doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a result of hearing loss. Your TMJ could be the culprit. Talk to your dentist about your symptoms. Together, you can find a treatment that best meets your needs.

About the Author

Dr. Mihran Asinmaz earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from Nova Southeastern University before completing a rigorous General Practice Residency in the prestigious North Shore – Long Island Jewish Health System. Currently, he is a proud member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Academy of General Dentistry, International Congress of Oral Implantologists, American Dental Association, and the Florida Dental Association. To learn more about TMD treatment or to schedule a consultation at his office in West Palm Beach, visit his website or call (561) 640-9200.

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