How TMJ Affects Ears

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The temporomandibular joint, which controls jaw function, is in the middle of a complex network of fascia, nerves, and ligaments. While the joint does not directly cause hearing loss, any neurologic interruption that may be linked to TMJ disorder could result in ear-based symptoms. These include tinnitus, or heavy ringing in the ears, or just earaches.

Patients who have these symptoms, especially if there are no others, often think they have an ear infection and schedule an appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor, or otolaryngologist. This is not an incorrect move, since otolaryngology is one of the disciplines associated with TMJ treatment. But once checked, it may become obvious that you have more than a simple earache—you may have TMJ disorder.

To treat ear pain that is a symptom of TMJ, we recommend some of the same things used for TMJ pain in other places. Start with common pain reliever, using as directed. Escalate to applied use of heat and cold, which can relax some of the relevant musculature. You can also monitor your diet to make sure you’re not eating too many tough meats or raw fruits and vegetables, as these can further overwork the temporomandibular joint.

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