If you suffer intermittent, regular, or constant ear pain, ringing or other noises in the ear (tinnitus), or a stuffy feeling in the ear, there are many possible causes. Once you’ve eliminated possibilities like wax buildup and infections, you should consider TMJ as the source of your ear-related problems. Ear complaints are common among TMJ sufferers—perhaps as many as 80% of TMJ sufferers have them.
If you have unexplained ear pain, tinnitus, or stuffiness, TMJ treatment may help. Experienced neuromuscular dentist Dr. Adam Hahn has helped many people in Columbia, SC to get relief from tinnitus and related ear symptoms. To learn whether he can help you, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry today for an appointment.
Common Causes of Ear Problems
If you are suffering from ear pain, tinnitus, or stuffiness in your ears, it’s important to consider all the possible causes. Some of the most common causes include:
- Ear trauma
- Ear wax blockage
- Ear infection
Once you’ve eliminated all these potential causes for your ear problems, you may have TMJ.
TMJ and Ear Problems
TMJ is a commonly misdiagnosed cause of ear problems. Many of the patients who see us have been mistakenly diagnosed with infections, blockages, and may have taken numerous antibiotics and seen several specialists before getting a TMJ evaluation.
Many people are not aware of this, but your ear is housed in the same bone where your jaw comes together with your skull. When your temporomandibular joint is out of alignment, it can put pressure on the bone, putting pressure on your ear’s inner mechanisms. In addition, displacement, strain, and spasms of the muscles that work the jaw can put pressure on blood vessels and nerves that supply the ear, resulting in ear symptoms, including dizziness and vertigo.
Tinnitus and TMJ
Tinnitus is a mysterious condition with many possible causes. People with tinnitus hear ringing, roaring, or other noises with no apparent cause. Damaging noise, ear wax, inflammation, and medications can cause these sounds, but many cases of tinnitus are due to TMJ. Tinnitus may result from a disruption of the delicate balance of the fine structures of the inner ear, but it may also be due to irritation of the cochlear nerve, which passes by the TM joint and the muscles that control your jaw on its way to the spinal column. This irritation may register not as pain, but as sound because that is the type of signal the cochlear nerve carries.
Ear Pain and TMJ
If you feel pain inside your ear that isn’t due to an ear infection, it may be TMJ. When the jaw is out of alignment, it may contribute to spasms of the delicate muscles of the ear, causing pain. If you have ear pain, but no reason to believe it may be an infection, it might be preferable to see a neuromuscular dentist first, because TMJ evaluation can give a positive diagnosis. Many doctors will absently prescribe antibiotics even if there is no sign of an infection.
Stuffiness of the ear / Ear congestion
The most common cause of stuffiness in your ears is blocked Eustachian tubes. These tubes regulate the air pressure in your ears. However, pressure from TMJ can lead to a feeling of stuffiness or congestion in the ears.
TMJ Treatment Is Effective for Ear Symptoms
People who have ear symptoms due to TMJ are likely to see good results with treatment. Studies show that about 80% of tinnitus sufferers may see improvement of symptoms with TMJ treatment, making it one of the most successful treatment options for this condition. Other ear symptoms see similar or even better treatment rates: in one study 100% of patients with dizziness or vertigo saw improvement of their symptoms with TMJ treatment.