Tinnitus can actually be caused by something that has absolutely nothing to do with your ears: the temporomandibular joint.
What is the Temporomandibular Joint?
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint at which your upper and lower jaw meet. It allows you to open your mouth, move your jaw from side to side, eat and speak. This joint can sometimes experience pain, known as temporomandibular disorder, or TMD.
What Causes TMD?
TMD can be caused by a variety of different issues:
|•||Clenching and/or bruxism.|
|•||Osteoarthritis, which is the breakdown of the joint.|
|•||Rheumatoid arthritis, or the inflammation of the joint.|
Symptoms of TMD
The most common symptom of temporomandibular disorder is facial and jaw pain. Other symptoms include:
|•||Pain while chewing.|
|•||Difficulty opening your mouth.|
|•||Clicking and popping. Your jaw may even lock open.|
|•||Radiating pain that extends to your neck and shoulders.|
|•||A ringing in your ear.|
The cause of tinnitus, or a ringing in your ear, is often misdiagnosed, thought to be the cause of an ear infection or other ear problem. TMD can be missed as the ear and the jaw aren't connected. The TMJ is located just under the ear, though. One reason the joint can cause ringing is because the chewing muscles are near the middle ear. Another suspect is that the nerve supply from the joint connected to the brain in the region that is also connected to your hearing.
If you suffer from a ringing in your ear, but there are no problems with your ears, you may be suffering from TMD. Contact our office for a proper diagnosis and discuss your treatment options.