Hearing Problems & TMJ DisordersWhat's the connection?
Hearing problems can be caused by TMJ
If 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
One 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?
If 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.