Temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect the jawbone and the skull. They are located on each side of the head near each ear. These joints help you eat, talk and even make facial expressions. TMJ disorder (often referred to simply as TMJ) occurs when one or both of the joints stop working the right way. Because of their location on the head, TMJ can affect the ears, jaw, mouth and other nearby areas. The symptoms vary depending on the location of the trouble.
Many times when a person has an earache, he assumes it is an infection. With TMJ, having a "bad bite" can make the muscles twitch, which in turn can cause the ear to hurt. If a person's doctor is unable to find anything wrong and cannot diagnose why the ear is hurting, TMJ could possibly be the culprit.
There is a tube in the ear that runs from the middle ear all the way to the rear of the nose. This tube is called the Eustachian tube, and it regulates the pressure of the middle ear. It is also responsible for removing any fluid, infection or debris in the middle ear. This tube is typically closed so as not to contaminate the middle ear, but when it malfunctions, the pressure of the middle ear isn't regulated properly. This can result from an ear infection or twitch of the Eustachian tube, which can be lead to possible TMJ.
Dizziness or vertigo typically results when the inner ear is disturbed. There are different reasons for this, such as neck arthritis, poor circulation and even migraines. TMJ can result when a person has a misaligned bite, but once the bite is corrected, vertigo typically disappears as well.
Tinnitus is when there is a ringing or roaring noise in the ears. This can result from being exposed to really loud noise, the external ear canal being clogged with wax, the ear drum is swollen or inflamed, or even taking too much aspirin. Often when someone experiences these symptoms, they aren't treated for TMJ, when in fact TMJ is the actual culprit.
Treating TMJ varies, but when it is caused by a misaligned bite, typically fixing the bite can help improve or eliminate the problem. Seeking professional advice and treatment is always advised.