Whether you have an uneven jaw, a jaw injury, or TMD, jaw problems can cause discomfort in more areas than just your jaw. Your jaw sits at a crucial point in the middle of your shoulders, neck, ears, and skull, and it is intricately tied to the function of all of these parts and their associated muscles, tendons, and nerves. So it should come as no surprise that TMD, chronic jaw pain, and other jaw issues that affect millions of Americans can contribute to problems with your ears.
How Does TMD Affect Your Ears?
TMD or TMJ is a collective term used for different disorders affecting the temporomandibular joint. This is the hinge-like joint that connects your jawbone to your skull, and you have one on each side of your jaw. The bones that make up this joint are covered with cartilage and are separated by a small disc that is designed to absorb shock as the bones move together. People can develop TMD if this disc or the cartilage in the temporomandibular joint erodes due to arthritis. Other people develop TMD as a result of a genetically uneven jaw, a traumatic facial injury that damages the joint or nerves, or from habitual teeth grinding and clenching, which is often attributed to stress.
Since the temporomandibular joints sit right in front of your ears, any damage to this joint (whether from TMD or another jaw issue) can cause ear pain. Any inflammation or injury to your jaw can also radiate to your ears, since they are so close in proximity. Ear pain from TMD can be constant, or it might only occur when you talk, eat, yawn, or otherwise open your mouth widely. Additionally, TMD and other jaw problems can cause tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. It is believed that this is due to the jaw and eardrum sharing certain nerves, as well as the temporomandibular joint sharing a nerve with the part of the brain that is responsible for hearing. If your ears are ringing due to jaw problems, contact our office to find out how we can help.
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