Many people are very saddened to hear that there’s no cure for their tinnitus. However, that isn’t always true. For some types of tinnitus, especially primary tinnitus, there’s no effective treatment. 

Primary tinnitus is tinnitus linked to no other cause than hearing loss, in which the ringing often fills in for the unheard sounds. This type of tinnitus just has to be managed, since it can’t normally be effectively treated or cured. But for tinnitus connected to TMJ, the ear symptoms will resolve or at least reduce if you have your jaw pain treated.

The good news is that it’s likely TMJ at least contributes to your tinnitus. Tinnitus is a very common symptom of TMJ. Studies show that nearly 80%, even 90% of people with TMJ experience one or more ear symptoms. In addition, tinnitus often appears as the second or third most common type of ear symptom.

But how do you know whether your tinnitus is related to TMJ? The only sure way is to be evaluated by a Columbia, SC, TMJ dentist, like Dr. Adam Hahn at Smile Columbia Dentistry. However, if you are trying to decide whether to visit a TMJ dentist, the following considerations might give you a good idea.

young adult man holding his jaw in pain

No Other Cause

The first thing to consider is whether there are other potential causes for your tinnitus. The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to very loud noises, whether at work or recreationally by going to numerous concerts or listening to headphones.

Even if you don’t think you’ve been exposed to excessive noise, see a doctor for a hearing test. If you have significant hearing loss, you might have primary tinnitus. 

If you can’t link your tinnitus to chronic or acute exposure to loud noises, then it’s time to see a Columbia TMJ dentist.

Moving Your Jaw Alters the Sounds

One positive piece of evidence that TMJ is related to your tinnitus is that you can change the sound you’re hearing by moving your jaw. This shows that the connection between your jaw and your ear is at least partly involved in the production of sounds.

The connection between your jaw problem and tinnitus could be related to the muscle connections that exist between the jaw and the ear. Or it could be related to pressure on a nerve related to hearing. But whatever the connection, if your jaw position changes the sound, it’s likely that your jaw position could even tune it down or even out, given time and the optimal jaw position.

This is also a good sign that tinnitus is likely to respond to treatment. If simply moving your jaw around can reduce the intensity of sound, it’s likely that holding your jaw in the proper, healthy position with a bite splint or reconstructed smile will lead to the long-term reduction or even elimination of the sound. 

Tinnitus Appears after Intense Jaw Activity

Another common sign that TMJ is responsible for your tinnitus is that it tends to come on after you’ve had an especially active time with your jaw. This may be a long period of talking or very loud talking. It might be related to eating a meal of tough or challenging foods. This might be food that causes you to open your mouth wide–such as a tall burger or sandwich–or food that might make you chew for a long time, including chewing gum. 

Don’t neglect involuntary and semi-involuntary jaw activity. For example, stress might make you clench your jaw tightly, even though you might not be aware you’re doing it. You might also experience sleep bruxism–clenching and grinding your teeth while you sleep. This could strain your jaw muscles and trigger your tinnitus. 

If you can link your tinnitus to jaw activity, then it’s likely that TMJ is the cause.

You Have Other TMJ Symptoms

Although it’s possible to have just one TMJ symptom, most TMJ sufferers have many. Research hints that tinnitus might be most strongly connected to the type of TMJ called myofascial pain disorder (MPD). In MPD, symptoms originate from stressed jaw muscles and connective tissue. This is the most common form of TMJ, and it also commonly causes jaw pain, face pain, headaches, and similar systems. 

Don’t forget to consider other ear symptoms, such as ear fullness, vertigo, and earaches. 

Check out the full list of TMJ symptoms. If you see three or more symptoms you experience regularly, then it’s highly likely that you have TMJ. 

Tinnitus Treatment in Columbia

Probably the best part of the news that you have TMJ-related tinnitus is that this type of tinnitus can actually be treated. By treating your TMJ, Columbia, SC, TMJ dentist Dr. Adam Hahn can reduce the severity of your tinnitus or maybe even eliminate it altogether.

But we can only know for sure after a comprehensive exam and diagnosis. To schedule your exam for TMJ-related tinnitus in Columbia, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.