Common TMJ Ear Symptoms

Many people experience ear symptoms related to their TMJ, but they are not always the same. People with TMJ can report many symptoms, including:

  • Clogged ears
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Vertigo and dizziness
  • Hearing loss

Your ears might feel full as if something caught in them won’t come out. Sometimes, your ears might feel pain, either because they feel clogged or independent of a stuffy feeling. 

So-called ringing in the ears might sound like ringing, but it could also be a roaring, buzzing, whistling, clicking, or grinding sound. 

Vertigo is an off-balance sensation. You may feel that the world is spinning, or you are dizzy or disoriented. 

Hearing loss related to TMJ can affect one or both ears. It may be a partial hearing loss, affecting only part of the audible sound range. 

With common ear symptoms like ear stuffiness and ear pain, people often mistake TMJ symptoms for an ear infection or allergies. However, ear infections are uncommon among adults, even if you had ear infections commonly as a child. Allergies can cause ear symptoms, but these occur at predictable times. If your ear symptoms occur when there are low allergen counts, you should consider another explanation, such as TMJ. 

How TMJ Causes Ear Symptoms

We’re not entirely sure how TMJ causes ear symptoms. In all likelihood, it’s not a single mechanism but multiple mechanisms that may overlap for some people. This makes sense since not all people experience the same ear symptoms linked to their TMJ.

The temporomandibular joint is very close to the ear. In fact, the skull’s temporal bone that houses the middle and inner ear is the “temporo-” part of the joint’s name. This is more than just physical closeness; it’s an inter-functional relationship. Several ligaments run from the temporomandibular joint to structures related to hearing and balance. Jaw muscles surround the ear. Nerves from the ear interact with multiple jaw structures. 

For some people, ligaments from the jaw might pull on the delicate structures of the ear to create phantom sounds. For others, jaw structures might impinge on the ear canal or eustachian tube to create a feeling of fullness. For still others, jaw movements might pinch or irritate the nerve carrying hearing and balance signals to the brain, causing hearing loss or dizziness. Or people might experience some mixture of these and other effects. 

The good news is that managing TMJ can reduce or even eliminate the impact of the condition on the ear. Symptoms will diminish and may even go away entirely. 

Is TMJ Causing Your Ear Symptoms?

woman holding her ear in painMany things can cause ear symptoms. So how do you know if TMJ is causing your symptoms? In general, you should suspect TMJ-related ear symptoms if:

  • Symptoms worsen or change with jaw activity
  • You have other TMJ symptoms
  • You have eliminated other causes of ear symptoms

Although some people experience constant ear symptoms related to TMJ, for many people, symptoms flare and ebb in relation to jaw activity. If moving your jaw a lot can lead to worse or different symptoms, you should be evaluated for TMJ. 

TMJ symptoms affect many parts of the body. If you experience multiple TMJ symptoms besides ear symptoms, you should suspect TMJ.

Finally, talking to a doctor about your ear symptoms is a good idea to eliminate other possible causes. If your doctor can’t give you a positive diagnosis or offers treatments that aren’t effective for you, talk to a TMJ dentist. 

Relief from Ear Symptoms in Independance?

If you’ve been experiencing painful or disruptive ear symptoms, you don’t have to keep suffering. There may be an effective solution for you. Let the TMJ dentists at the Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea help. 

Please call (816) 795-1000 or use our online form today to request an appointment at the Center for TMJ & Sleep Apnea.