Hearing Problems and TMJ Disorders

Dr. Shapira Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Hearing Problems TMJ Disorders, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Mettawa, Morton Grove, Northbrook, Northfield, Skokie, Vernon Hills, Wilmette, Winnetka 20 Comments

Hearing problems can be caused by TMJ

hearing-problems-chicagoIf you are experiencing symptoms such as jaw pain or swelling, a popping noise when you chew or yawn, or if your jaw locks from time to time, it would not surprise us if you guessed correctly that there could be something wrong with your jaw – these are telltale signs of a TMJ disorder.

A TMJ disorder can cause a host of problems that originate in your tempormandibular (TM) joint. Meant to move smoothly, allowing fluid motion that opens and closes you jaw as well as moving it forward, backward and from side to side, your TMj joint does not normally cause any kind of discomfort.

However, when this joint is misaligned, the muscles, ligaments and nerves associated with it are placed under excessive strain causing pain to radiate from the jaw.

This is where TMJ gets complicated. A TMJ disorder often affects other parts of the body that seem to be unrelated. You may suffer from chronic headaches or a stiff neck. Swallowing could become difficult as your tongue tingles or your throat aches all of the time. You could even experience TMJ hearing problems as a result of a problem with your jaw.

What causes TMJ?

Your temporomandibular joint is an intricate system of nerves, ligaments, muscles, and bone that work together to allow you to eat, yawn, or speak on a daily basis.  There is a direct connection from the TMJ to the middle ear.

People who find themselves living under a great deal of pressure can place too much strain on their jaw, clenching their teeth during the day and grinding their teeth at night. The consequence is discomfort and pain.

In some cases, the problem may originate in the actual oral structures in a person’s mouth, the way the bite has formed or the amount of spacing that is available. Trauma or injury is another TMJ cause. A blow to the joint can cause it to become misaligned.

Whenever the delicate system of the temporomandibular joint is not working properly, it can have big consequences, even affecting the nerves that are related to hearing.

Tackle your TMJ

tmj-ear-congestionOne of the most troubling effects of a TMJ disorder is altered hearing and hearing loss. While there are many causes of hearing loss, many people have no idea that TMJ is one of them. Consequently, for those whose hearing problems are caused by a malfunctioning jaw, the problem often goes unresolved. As humans, hearing is not only critical for our safety, it brings us beauty and joy through music, communication and the sounds of life.

TMJ hearing loss begins with inflammation. With its close proximity to the ear, any inflammation in the muscles of the jaw can cause the muscles associated with the ear to become constricted. How?

When someone has TMJ pain, the sequence of events in the body may be this:

  • Nerves send a message to the brain saying that there is TMJ pain
  • The message crosses to the inner ear nerve pathway
  • The brain receives pain messages from the TMJ and the inner ear
  • The ear reacts to the perceived pain by contracting muscles
  • The frequent contracting of the inner ear muscles causes bones to be moved out of alignment
  • The tensor of the ear drum, the Tensor Tympani is ebryologically related to the Medial Pterygoid jaw muscles.
  • The Tensor Palatini Muscle also can dysfunction leading to Eustachian Tube dysfunction
  • Eustacian Tube problems can lead to pressure build up and feeling like you have water in your ear.
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ear may be relieved with Physiologic Treatment of your  TMJ

These bones, the incus, malleus and stapes, are involved in hearing and balance. The result of all of this is that the TMJ pain that the brain misinterprets as ear pain can lead to hearing loss and dizziness, in the same way that actual problems with the inner ear can. 

The solution is dental?

tmj-dentistIf you are experiencing symptoms that indicate you may have a TMJ disorder, or no one else can give you answers about your hearing loss, it’s time to try another route.

The key to effective TMJ treatment is an accurate diagnosis.  Dr. Shapira is a dentist who specializes in TMJ disorders. His understand of the principles of physiologic dentistry, along with specialized technology that can relax your jaw muscles and diagnose the root cause of the problem, help him find effective, long lasting treatment to put you jaw back into it’s happy place.

Can Dr. Shapira help you? Why not come in for a consultation and find out.

Comments 20

  1. I have been diagnosed of having T M.J finally now through a whole year of no clue. They are going to make a night guard dentist says that should help. I was wondering will the pressure on my ears subside? Feels like I can’t hear or stuck like cement.

  2. Post
    Author

    If the majority of your problems are at night or early morning a nightguard may be very helpful. Many patients have problems throughout the day and then a 24/7 appliance may be needed.

    The pressure in the ears should subside with treatment if it is related to TMJ disorder and the dentist understands what is necessary to retore balance to your system.

  3. My TMJ has been hurting for awhile and I’m being sent to a specialist. Its taking awhile because it’s hard to find someone that accepts Medicaid. I just recently started to feel small pops in my ears when I swallow, and it is also hard to swallow. Can the hearing loss be permenant? If so, how long would it take to be permanent.

  4. Post
    Author

    Permanent damage usually does not occur rapidly. If you lock it does become an emergency situation. The pops when you swallow may be either joint or eustacian tubes.

  5. I recently have been diagnosed with tmj due to my jaw locking, and I have learned popping and clicking is a sign of tmj which I have experienced those symptoms as long as I can remember. 5 years ago I was diagnosed with significant hearing loss that has worsened horribly over the years to profound damage and the idea I am rapidly going deaf with no known cause. If it is the tmj, and I go through treatment for it will my hearing improve again. Or is this permanent..

  6. Post
    Author

    I wish I could say yes to improvement of hearing loss but the best I can say is a qualified Maybe. When you lock the disk is moved forward out of position and the condyle rests on the Retrodiscal Lamina of the TMJoint. This tissue has nerves and blood vessels that are never supposed to be under pressure but are smashed when disk is out of place. The tensor of the eardrum is a “Jaw” muscle and it is embryologically linked to medial pterygoid muscle, The opening and closing of eustacian tube is controlled by Tensor Villi Palatini muscle. There are additional secondary and tertiary effects of jaw problems. I have had patients see hearing improve with Sphenopalatine (SPG) Ganglion Blocks http://www.sphenopalatineganglionblocks.com/blog/ Is the hearing loss unilateral or bilateral? Tinnitus? Otalgia, ear pain? There are many possible connections and I would suggest trying a diagnostic physiologic orthotic as first step. Cranio work can also effect hearing but will not hold without first controlling muscle activity. No Promises on hearing loss. Good news is that with no pathology identified there should be potential for healing.

  7. Hey,

    I recently have been having biting problems, and yesterday as I started doing jaw excercises in the sauna — apply pressure to my jaw with my hand then forcefully open my mouth. When I stopped, I noticed my hearing was distorted — loud noises had an electronic pitch. And as I went to sleep, this distorted hearing turned into buzzing in my ears — first my right ear, then my left.

    I woke up the next morning, and now the distorted hearing is gone, but both my ears are buzzing (right more than left), which I think is tinnitus.

    I also felt pressure in my right ear yesterday and tried doing the valsalva manuever, but to no avail. Can this buzzing sound be eliminated?

    Thank you?

  8. Post
    Author

    It is usually never a good idea to force the jaw, but it is unlikely you have done any prmanent damage. There are many connections of the ear to the jaw. The Tensor veli palatini muscle opens and closes the Eustacian tube and the medial pterygoid muscle is embryolgiclly the same as the tensor of ear drum and are often in spasm together. There are also direct positional issues, blood flow issues and possible Pinto’s ligament connecting them.

    Regardless of the exact cause I would suggest starting treatment with a physiologic diagnostic appliance. I expect the problem will resolve.

  9. hello
    I’ve had a bit of jaw clicking for ten years. That’s been the only symptom. Since 3 weeks my jaw feels tense my ears feel clogged and I’m sensitive to high pitch sounds. And a bit of ringing. What’s possibly going on?

  10. Post
    Author

    There are many ways a TMD problem can cause these issues.
    Frequently, the tensor of the ear drum (tensor veli tympani) spasms with the medial pterygoid muscle due to common nerve supply. The SCM can also cause tinnitus. When you have clicking it is a sign the entire system is out of balance.
    This alone is not ominus but patients often get worse over time.

  11. Hello – I’ve been experiencing tinnitus for about 8 years now. I noticed it after experiencing a really bad headache (I don’t often get headaches). Since then, I also experience cracking sounds when I swallow, but none when just chewing or opening and closing my jaw unless I open it all the way. I would sometimes hear flutter in my right ear when I hear sounds such as the water running. Occasionally my jaw would crack and I have a history of grinding so I started using a mouth guard 3 years ago, but my main issues are with my ears and the ringing as well as the occasional clogged feeling and itchiness. I had 4 teeth extracted before getting braces as a child for an overbite, had my wisdom teeth extracted, fillings then braces again a few years ago as an adult for my crossbite after I started experiencing tinnitus, tense shoulders and neck and some jaw pain. More recently, the ringing has elevated, which prompted me to visit an ENT and found no issues other than having mild hearing loss. I even got an MRI done, which turned out normal. I’m not sure if my TMJ is getting worse, but decided to move forward with treatment in hopes it would alleviate my ear issues. I’m a week into wearing an orthotic for my misaligned bite by merely 1 mm or so according to my physiologic dentist. I wanted to get another opinion and see if this could all be due to TMJD? Sometimes I question if it is TMJ related because I don’t experience headaches, which seems most patients experience and my MRI appeared normal. Also, if this will help with my tinnitus, how long until it could be relieved? I’m not expecting it to completely go away, but hope it would go down again through time. Thanks so much for your input!

  12. Post
    Author

    Tinnitus can be a difficult symptom. High pitch tinnitus that never chagesis the most difficult to treat. I suspect that some of your issues are related to extracting 4 teeth for ortho. Do you have a forward head position? If yes you may need to open your bite more temporarily to correct your head posture. The craching sounds in your ear can be related to eustacian tube dysfunction from the Tensor veli palatini muscle. TMD is a combination of many factors, those inside the joint or intracapsular disorders which usually includes the clicking and popping noises. Much of the dysfunction is from myofascial pain which is extracapsular. Trigger points can cause tinnitus , especially in the Strenocleidomastoid muscle. Count yourself luck that you are not experiencing headaches. Check the position of the condyle by placing your pinkie finger in your ear with the soft part forward. Open and close your mouth fully, does your condyle get pushed in your ear? You can feel with pinkie, if yes jaw is too far bach which is a common pathology are bicuspid extraction.

  13. Hello, my name is Nicole and I have has TMJ for about two years now and it is getting worse. I went to 3 dentists and have gone to a oral surgent and I get told different solutions from everyone. 2 denists said I just need a night gaurd but

  14. but I don’t grind my teeth and I ask the dentist if I have any signs of grinding my teeth and they don’t see any signs of it. I went to a new dentist and he said I needed braces to fix the problem and I don’t want to pay for braces if it isn’t for sure going to fix the problem. I also went to a oral surgent and he said I needed surgery. I don’t know what to do. TMJ is very painful.

  15. Post
    Author

    A night guard makes sense if you have pain during the night or upon awakening. If you have it during the day as well a nightguard is not the best approach. The best approach is to start treatment with a diagnostic physiologic orthotic. I am currently in Buenos Aires , Argentina and gave a lecture on SPG Blocks. There were amazing presentations from doctors from Japan, the United States, Canada, France, Italy and Russia. The science is exploding while most dentists are being left bewildered and confused.

  16. Post
    Author

    A diagnosis is the first step, surgery is the very last after all other options have failed. Insurance records have shown the nummber one diagnosis for surgery is repeat surgery. It makes more sense to go the diagnostic orthotic route. Even a full mouth reconstruction is a bargain compared to surgery. The quote “THERE IS NO DISEASE OR DISORDER THAT CANT BE MADE WORSE BY STICKING A KNIFE IN IT” says it all.
    Ideally, a reversible orthotic should relieve most or all symptoms before considering a surgical approach.
    Vist my youtube channel to hear patients discuss their issues and how treatment drastically improved their quality of life.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

  17. Hi, Dr Shapira I have problems with clenching as a teenager. It went away for thirty years. Now I’m 49, and has come back worse than ever. Been to every oral, physiologic, tmj specialist. All suggested a special night guard. Four different ones. They all do not work. Had an m.r.I everything perfect, no arthritis, tmj joints are perfect. Every day I’m in pain, jaw pain, left ear clogs,musle spasms in face near ear, neck pain, facial pain,shoulder pain. I do not think it is sleep apnea.I do not snore or feel tired. Could it be psychological and it is hard habit yo break.I do wear a night guard but only protects teeth, does not solve the problem. Why is it lasting 2 years and counting and nobody can figure it out?
    Any suggestions. Should I see a psychiatrist? I just do not understand why I cannot break the habit? Or is it something else.No matter what type of night guard I still clench. I think I hold a lot of anger and that’s my way of releasing.
    Thanks for listening.Any suggestions at this point would be helpful
    John

  18. Post
    Author

    Dear Mary,

    I usually suggest visiting ICCMO.org for Physiologic Dentists but each patient and doctor is unique and results vary. There are only a few docs I highly reccommend and they are not in Atlanta area.
    I suggest you view some patient videos, you will find patients similar to yourself which may help clarify what is possible.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk9Bfz6pklC7_UluWFHzLrg

  19. Post
    Author

    It sounds like you have MPD or myofascial pain and dysfunction. This does not show on CT or MRI scans. MPD responds well to trigger point injections and spray and stretch techniques. The ear problem is probably a eustacian tube issue and related to tensor veli palatini muscle that opens and closes eustacoian tubes. Psychological issues should be dealt with but sounds like a functional issue.
    SPG blocks are possible, even the side effects might be helpful in your case. http://www.sphenopalatineganglionblocks.com/sphenopalatine-spg-ganglion-block-side-effects/

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