What is TMJ?
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are located on your jaw’s left and right sides, just in front of your ears, sometimes causing pain. These joints are surrounded by muscles and ligaments that can become strained with overuse. Common causes of TMJ tension include excessive stress, trauma to the jaw, and teeth grinding or clenching at night. If you think TMJ tension may be causing your unpleasant symptoms, it may be time to visit a doctor who treats TMJ in Michigan.
Why Do I Have Ear Pain?
Ear pain that stems from TMJ is caused by inflammation in the jaw joint. The swelling pushes and pulls on tendons and ligaments that help connect your jaw to your skull and keep the bones of your inner ear in place. In fact, your jawbone is so close to your inner ear that those bones that help you hear are thought to have been jawbones in our evolutionary ancestors.
Why Are My Ears Ringing and Congested?
Ear ringing is a sign of hearing loss which can happen if you leave your TMJ untreated. The sound you hear, whether that be ringing, whistling, buzzing, chirping, hissing, humming, roaring, or even shrieking, is because the strain of swelling is pulling at your eardrum. This pulling destabilizes it and causes noises that only you can hear.
This same swelling and inflammation can cause your ears to feel full, as if they’re congested, like you have a cold.
Is My Vertigo A Sign of TMJ?
Some people can experience vertigo as a sign of something else or simply vertigo on its own, but sometimes it stems from TMJ disorder. You have a loop-shaped canal in each of your ears that contain fluid that covers tiny hair-like sensors. When you move your head, these sensors detect the direction of the liquid and send a signal to your brain. Your brain then interprets your position in space and sends instructions to your arms, legs, and torso to keep your balance.
When swelling and inflammation from TMJ are pulling on your ear canal and structures around it, these sensors get confused and send wrong signals to your brain. People with vertigo experience dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
While it is true that loss of balance can be a sign of age, you don’t have to let premature or severe dizziness from TMJ hinder your life. With treatment, you could get your balance back and return to doing the things you love or trying new things.
Symptoms of TMJ Problems
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Some include:
- A strange clicking or popping noise when you open your mouth or move your jaw from side to side
- Discomfort around your jaw joint, face, neck and/or shoulders when you move your mouth to speak or eat
- A numb or tired feeling in the muscles around your face
- Swelling near the jaw joint
- Difficulty chewing or a sudden change in the way your teeth fit together
- “Lock-jaw,” a condition that occurs when the jaw becomes stuck in an open or closed position
- Frequent toothaches
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- Trouble swallowing
- Feeling of fullness in the ear
TMJ neck pain is also common, as are TMJ eye symptoms. These can include blurred vision and light sensitivity. If you have any of these problems or have developed hearing problems and frequent headaches, you may have TMJ issues that you should have your TMJ dentist address as soon as possible.
Treatment Options for Ear Pain
Whenever possible, we try to use the least-invasive means possible to treat TMJ in Michigan. These include corrective orthotic devices that are worn at night and help keep the jaw in place, physical therapy techniques and pain-relieving injections. Surgery may be recommended for severe cases of TMJ if conservative approaches are not effective.
An orthotic that corrects TMJ is something that you’ll wear 24/7—at first. It’s a mouthpiece that holds your jaw in the correct position so it doesn’t slip out of place and cause TMJ’s painful symptoms. You’ll wear it until your symptoms have cleared. Then, you can switch to only wearing it at night. Don’t worry; people won’t be able to see that you’re wearing it. It doesn’t cover the front of your teeth, but you will have to remove it to eat.
Another TMJ treatment might be physical therapy. Physical therapy will relieve your jaw pain and allow your jaw to sit in the correct position without strained muscles pushing it out of alignment. Over time, your jaw will learn its proper position.
An injection to help TMJ pain is an injection of corticosteroid. It’ll relieve your pain by reducing inflammation.
Contact Us If You Have Ear Pain Related To TMJ
If you’re experiencing TMJ neck pain or other symptoms, please contact our office by calling (586) 573-0438. We look forward to relieving your symptoms through gentle and effective treatment methods.