TMJ is also known as temporomandibular joint disorder or syndrome. In this condition, the muscles and nerves of the temporomandibular joint are affected by inflammation and can cause symptoms of pain, crackling, grinding, popping noises, and tinnitus. Tinnitus is a condition in which ringing or buzzing sounds occur in one or both ears, not caused by any outside noise. There are a number of things that can cause tinnitus, but TMJ and ringing in the ear frequently occur together.
Swelling and inflammation in the temporomandibular joint can also affect the areas surrounding it. The ear canal is closely located to this joint, and is frequently affected by this inflammation. Over-activity of the jaw can also cause disturbances in the ear canal, because it affects muscles and tendons that are attached to and stabilize the eardrum. Many cases of TMJ are caused by grinding and clenching the teeth while sleeping, which is a type of over-activity. This involuntary action is also known as bruxism. Other examples of jaw over-activity seen in TMJ are habitual movements made as a response to stress, habits such as chewing on fingernails, and excessive gum chewing. When these activities cause stress and disturbances to the muscles and ligaments attached to the eardrum, tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sensation, is experienced.
TMJ Tinnitus Treatment
TMJ Tinnitus Treatment requires a thorough medical evaluation of the situation. The type of treatment needed to relieve this symptom can vary from one patient to the other, because it depends on what is causing the TMJ to begin with. Some of the symptoms to be checked for are:
- Unusual wearing of the teeth
- Tenderness or pain around the temporomandibular joint
- The presence of noises when opening or closing the jaw
- Pain in the ears, made worse by jaw movement
- Neck pain
- A sensation of fullness or stuffiness in the ears
Once the patient has been properly evaluated, a plan for treatment can be organized. This may involve the use of mouth guards to prevent grinding and clenching the teeth while sleeping, a common TMJ bruxism treatment. Splints to correct the alignment of the jaw and ease muscle tension may also be used, or orthodontic treatment may be used to correct problems such as a misaligned bite or excessively worn down teeth. In milder cases, sometimes the use of clonazepam taken in a single nightly dose can be enough to treat the TMJ. This medication not only acts as a muscle relaxant, but can prevent the involuntary clenching and grinding of teeth during sleep.
After the cause of is determined and a successful TMJ treatment has been applied, most patients will experience relief of their symptoms of tinnitus.