Problems affecting your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the sliding hinge joint connecting your lower jaw to your skull, can cause many symptoms that do not necessarily seem to have anything at all to do with your jaw. Ear-related symptoms, such as tinnitus, vertigo and ear pain are the perfect examples.
Dizziness and loss of balance due to vertigo as well as tinnitus and ear pain can be very serious. If you experience these symptoms on a regular basis, you may often feel disoriented, lightheaded or even confused. It may be difficult to go about your daily routine and do something as routine as drive to work or play with your children.
Fortunately, the team at Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey is here to help. If other doctors have ruled out ear infections or other ear problems, Dr. Ivan Stein may be able to link your ear-related symptoms to a problem with your TMJ. He offers several treatments to restore normal form and function to your jaw joint, reliving tinnitus, ear pain, vertigo and many other symptoms you may be experiencing.
The Link Between Tinnitus, Vertigo and Ear Pain and TMJ Disorder
Patients are often surprised to learn that the reason they are experiencing ear-related symptoms is not due to an ear infection, but rather a problem with the nearby jaw joint. If you think about the physical proximity of the jaw joint and ears, the relationship starts to make more sense.
You have a TMJ on either side of your face, located mere millimeters from your ear canals. In fact, your jaw and your inner ears are so close that they actually share a ligament. Your inner ear has sensors that help regulate your sense of gravity and keep you feeling balanced and upright.
Because of the shared anatomy and the proximity of the TMJ to the inner ear, an injured, inflamed or otherwise malfunctioning TMJ can trigger sensations in the surrounding structures that cause ear symptoms. If your TMJ does not work properly, it can cause tinnitus (a ringing of the ears), ear pain, or a sensation of fullness in your ears. TMJ inflammation can also throw off the sensors in your ear that help you stay balanced, leading to the dizzying or spinning sensation that we know as vertigo.
Resolve Ear and Balance-Related Symptoms of TMJ
Although ear-related symptoms of TMJ can be concerning, they are treatable. The first step is to confirm a TMJ diagnosis with Dr. Stein. He will ask you about the history and frequency of your symptoms and examine your jaw and jaw joint. Depending on your symptoms, he may ask you to see an ear nose and throat doctor to rule out any other contributing medical problems.
Once Dr. Stein confirms that TMJ disorder, or TMD, is to blame, our team can suggest strategies to help. Usually, the first line of defense is self-care techniques such as resting your jaw with soft foods or heat or cold therapy, and taking over-the-counter medication to reduce pain and inflammation.
Dr. Stein may need to align your bite, improve your jaw’s normal resting position or make other dental or orthodontic modifications to restore full function to your TMJ. Our patients have seen great results and a significant improvement in symptom severity and frequency under our care.
Consult With Our TMJ Specialist
Many doctors are not completely aware of the connection between ear-related symptoms and TMJ — but Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey is. Our trained TMJ specialist, Dr. Ivan Stein, can establish a diagnosis and customize a treatment plan to your needs. Call or email us today to request an appointment with our TMJ doctor.