If you’ve ever attended a loud concert and stood near a speaker without wearing any ear protection, it’s likely you left the concert with ringing ears. This occurrence is referred to as tinnitus. On the other hand, you might also wake up and experience ringing or clogged feeling ears. This often occurs with TMJ. So what is the cause of your ringing ears? Is it TMJ or tinnitus? At Smile Columbia Dentistry, we can help you get to the bottom of your ringing ears and help you find a solution if TMJ is the culprit.

Red haired woman plugs her ear with her pointer finger

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the perception that there is noise or ringing in the ears. It’s a common problem that nearly 15 to 20% of people experience. It’s important to understand that tinnitus is not actually a condition; it’s a symptom of an underlying problem such as ear injury, hearing loss, or a disorder in the circulatory system. Although the symptoms of tinnitus are annoying, it’s usually not an indicator of something serious. The only way to reduce or eliminate tinnitus for good is by treating the underlying problem causing it in the first place. People can experience tinnitus in one or both ears. The sound might also come and go instead of being constant.

What is TMJ?

TMJ, on the other hand, is a syndrome that causes pain in the jaw joint due to a variety of medical problems. Oftentimes, the main cause of TMJ is a misalignment of the jaw. The temporomandibular joint connects all of the bones in the jaw which runs very closely near the ears. When the joint becomes damaged, ear ringing is often a symptom because the pain location is so nearby.

How to Tell the Difference Between TMJ and Tinnitus

One of the reasons many people can’t seem to get rid of their tinnitus is because it’s going misdiagnosed. Most doctors will brush away tinnitus as an ear injury instead of considering TMJ as the culprit. Fortunately, there are a few ways to tell if your tinnitus is caused by an ear injury or from TMJ.

It’s caused by TMJ if you also experience other TMJ symptoms like jaw, face and neck pain, frequent headaches, or clicking or popping when you open and close the jaw. It’s also likely TMJ if you have arthritis.

If you recently attended a loud concert or damaged your ear in any way, this is likely the cause of your tinnitus.

If you’re still not sure what’s causing your ears to ring or you would like to receive TMJ treatment to relieve your symptoms, please schedule an appointment at Smile Columbia for an evaluation. We will use advanced dental technology and a thorough examination to determine if TMJ is the cause. Once we diagnose you, we will come up with an effective treatment plan to end tinnitus and TMJ pain for good.

Please call us at (803) 781-9090 to book an appointment with TMJ dentist, Dr. Adam Hahn.