Have you ever experienced ringing in your ear? If so, that is called tinnitus. While it might happen more frequently in some people, what does it have to do with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD)? To understand how TMD affects hearing and tinnitus, we need to first understand TMD, which is soemtimes referred to as locked jaw. The jaw joints are responsible for opening the mouth, speaking, and chewing. And when these joints get damaged, your ability to perform these functions becomes limited and your jaw may feel as if it is locked.

What is the connection?

Studies have found a strong link between TMD and tinnitus. It found that 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. If your tinnitus is the result of TMD, then addressing the issue may also improve your tinnitus.

What treatment options are available?

If your tinnitus is a result of TMD, then the focus will be placed on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). For example, 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.