The ringing in your ear is tinnitus, but what does that have to do with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)? To understand how TMD affects hearing and tinnitus, we first have to understand TMD, which can often be referred to as locked jaw. The jaw joints are responsible for opening the mouth, speaking, and chewing, so when these joints get damaged, your ability to perform these functions becomes limited and your jaw may feel as if it is locked.
Studies have found a strong correlation between TMD and tinnitus. Patients with TMD are more likely to experience tinnitus, similar to how patients with a head or neck injury do. Look at it this way, the chewing muscles are closely situated to the inner ear muscles, which can translate to ringing of the ears as a side effect of pain or other dysfunction.
Next, there may be a direct connection between the ligaments attaching to the jaw and one of the hearing bones in the middle ear. And lastly, the nerve supply from the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) has connections with brain regions that are involved in hearing and sound processing. But there is good news (Yay!). If your tinnitus is indeed a result of TMD, then addressing the issue may also improve your tinnitus. It’s a win-win for you.
If your tinnitus is a result of TMD, then your focus will be on the TMJ. For instance, at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia, we can create a custom-made oral appliance that is worn at night to help relax the jaw muscles during sleep. There might also be other structural devices that can be used for improving teeth and jaw bone structure, but we can assess those other options in your next appointment once a diagnosis is made.
You can also try the following options:
- Reduce stress
- Avoid triggers such as loud noises that can worsen tinnitus
- Reducing alcohol consumption
- Performing jaw exercises
- Finding a support group
- Educating yourself on TMD and tinnitus
- Keeping volume down
- Maintaining good heart health
Contact Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on tinnitus and TMD. Don’t just put up with jaw pain or ringing in your ears–reach out for proper diagnosis and treatment planning.