Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is largely associated with age- or noise-related hearing loss. Mounting evidence has found that, in a smaller number of cases, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders may be a root cause of tinnitus instead of hearing loss.

People with subjective tinnitus hear disquieting sounds, such as ringing, buzzing, and humming, that are imperceptible to others. This condition becomes more common as people age and begin to lose their hearing.

Tinnitus associated with tms disorders affects a younger demographic. It is more common in people who were assigned female at birth than in people who were assigned male at birth.

We looked at the connection between tmj disorders and tinnitus. We discuss treatments that may help both conditions.

Your lower jaw is connected to your skull on both sides. The joints are in front of your ears. Your temporomandibular joints support the jaw muscles.

Causes of TMJ disorders

TMJ disorders are caused by inflammation or irritation of the ligaments and muscles surrounding the joints.

Potential causes include:

Symptoms of TMJ disorders

Symptoms of temporomandibular disorders include:

  • The sound of clicking or popping in the jaw.
  • There is pain in the jaw and ear.
  • There is a throbbing head.
  • Difficult opening your mouth.
  • The jaws lock in a closed position.

A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis of multiple studies found that the prevalence of tinnitus was higher in people with TMJ disorders than in people without TMJ disorders. This may be due to the proximity of the inner ear to the TMJ.

A part in the inner ear called the cochlea transforms sound waves into electrical impulses that the brain translates into recognizable sounds. Damage to the hair cells in the cochlea is a catalyst for tinnitus.

The cochlea is located next to theemporomandibular joint, which can cause irritation and inflammation in the cochlea. This may cause a ringing in the ears.

Subjective vs objective tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is the most common form of tinnitus. Noises are heard only by a person with tinnitus and are not generated by an exterior sound source.

Objective tinnitus is a rarer form of tinnitus. The sounds are typically caused by internal circulatory functions (blood flow) or defects in the structures of the ear. The sounds may be loud enough to be heard by another person.

A 2019 research study found that TMJ and tinnitus often occur together in people who were assigned female at birth and who are younger than the average tinnitus patient.

Tinnitus in this group is accompanied by pain, pressure, and high levels of stress.

Accompanying symptoms include:

  • dizziness
  • There is a throbbing head.
  • There is a feeling of dizziness.
  • The neck hurts.
  • The quality of life is not good.

Tinnitus related to tms disorders is sometimes referred to as a type of tinnitus. Somatic tinnitus is caused by a problem in the musculoskeletal system.

Researchers involved in a 2019 study noted that people with tinnitus and TMJ disorders might make up a specific tinnitus subtype. Their reasoning was based on this group’s responsiveness to specific treatments.

A 2012 study noted that people with tinnitus and TMJ disorders were able to reduce tinnitus symptoms through movements of the head and jaw. Music and sound stimulation also had a beneficial effect.

Research data from as far back as 1997 found that treating TMJ disorders helps alleviate tinnitus in people with both conditions. However, recent studies suggest more research is needed to confirm this connection.

Even so, the American Tinnitus Association is in favor of treating TMJ disorders to alleviate tinnitus that’s caused by problems with the joint.

Possible treatments for TMJ disorders

There are several treatments for tmz disorders that can help alleviate both jaw and tinnitus pain. These include:

Quality of life can be negatively affected by tmd disorders and tinnitus. Talk to a doctor if you have any symptoms of tms or tinnitus. If you feel depressed or anxious, this is important.

Treatments exist for both disorders.

A dental professional can treat temporomandibular disorders. Discuss the type of specialist you want to see with your current healthcare professional.

Research shows that tms disorders are a cause of tinnitus. People with both conditions are younger than the average patient.

People assigned female at birth seem to be more affected by temporomandibular disorders than people assigned male at birth.

Treatments specific to the cause of temporomandibular disorders may help alleviate symptoms.

Talk to your doctor or dentist about the treatments that are best for you.