TMJ / TMD Disorder can cause ear symptoms
Ear Pain (Otalgia)
Ear pain, in the absence of infection, is likely due to a TMD / TMJ disorder. Ear pain comes from the ligament being pinched or compressed between the jaw joint and the ear canal.
The ligament, retrodiscal tissue, has nerves, blood vessels and other small ligaments which can cause ear pain or tinnitus. Ear pain can also be caused by myalgia (muscle pain) of the jaw. This tissue is often a major contributor to the pain of Temporomandibular Disfunction (TMD), particularly when there is inflammation or compression within the jaw joint.
Ear Stuffiness or Fullness
In the absence of an ear or sinus infection, ear stuffiness or fullness can be caused by trauma or inflammation of the tensor veli palatine muscle. This muscle is attached to the soft palate and to the eustachian tube and controls the opening and closing of the eustachian tube. The tensor veli palatine muscle is also innervated by the same nerve as the jaw muscles. Chronic clenching or grinding of teeth can cause this muscle to spasm, and/or become traumatized or inflamed causing stuffiness or fullness of the ear.
Ear Ringing or Buzzing (Tinnitus)
Tinnitus can be the result of a TMJ disorder or compression of the ligament between the jaw joint and the ear canal. There are two smaller ligaments called the discomalleolar ligament and the anterior malleolar ligament. The ligaments are attached to the malleus (one of three bones of the middle ear) and to the ligament of the jaw joint and to the jaw. Trauma, inflammation or stretching of these ligaments can cause tinnitus, dizziness and ear pain.
In the absence of an infection, ear symptoms can be treated if it is caused by a TMJ or a TMD disorder. Depending on the diagnosis and the severity of the disorder, one or more orthotic appliances will be needed to treat ear symptoms. Ear symptoms can also be associated with other symptoms such as headaches, migraines, jaw and facial pain.
If you are suffering from ear symptoms and your physician has ruled out an infection OR you have taken medications and ear symptoms persist, call Bay Area TMJ & Sleep Center. Dr. Busciglio will perform a thorough exam and will be able to determine if your ear symptoms are due to a TMJ/TMD disorder.