Tinnitus is a condition where sufferers often experience a constant ringing, clicking or buzzing sound in the ears. While not life-threatening, tinnitus does cause a certain degree of mental anguish and stress to the sufferers.
To make matters worse, it’s very difficult to diagnose the true cause of the tinnitus and treat it because there are many causes and it all depends on the individual.
In this article, we’ll examine one of the causes known as TMJ or TMD. These are acronyms for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction respectively.
Now, the names may be a mouthful but it is a common condition which affects the jaws. The hinge of the jaw is located just below the ears and it is used in chewing, yawning and talking. Anytime you open and close your mouth, you are using this joint.
TMJ dysfunction affects this joint. Over 30 million Americans are affected by this condition that is responsible for jaw aches, headaches, facial pain and other related problems. Statistics have shown that half of TMJ suffers also experience tinnitus symptoms.
There are a few reasons for the close relationship between TMJ and Tinnitus.
There are a couple of reasons why TMJ and tinnitus and are often related:
1. The close proximity of the jaw hinge to the ears means that the nerves for the jaw and ears share similar pathways. So, when the nerves of the jaw are inflamed or affected the brain responds in a similar way and the signals are interpreted and translated into tinnitus symptoms.
2. The position of the jaw also plays a crucial role. An improperly aligned jaw will push back towards the ear cavity and thereby compress the tissues at the back. These tissues are highly sensitive and will be in pain.
The patient will then extend his jaw forward to reduce the pain. When this is done for prolonged periods, the jaw muscles get tired and start to cramp and spasm. Once again the nerves are affected and tinnitus symptoms occur as stated in the earlier point.
Treatment for tinnitus due to TMJ is difficult because the cause cannot be corrected. The best thing that can be done will be to consult a dentist who has specialized training in this field.
He may try to correct your jaw alignment by adjusting your bite or aligning your teeth. The treatment will be progressive. You may have to wear a mouthpiece to prevent you from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws while you’re asleep. This will also reduce the stress and strain on your jaw muscles.
The dentist may also prescribe medication such as tricyclic anti-depressants to reduce the severe effects of TMD and tinnitus symptoms. You may also wish to go on a softer diet to minimize chewing and give your jaw muscles a rest.
The best way to treat this condition is to reduce stress on the affected jaw muscles, stimulate the muscles to recover and promote better joint movement.
Recommending suitable exercised for this is beyond the scope of this article and it is better for you to seek the advice of a medical professional to see how to can correct the issue and reduce your tinnitus symptoms.