Both sides of your face have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that anchors your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. These joints are close to your ears—right in front of them. Your TMJs are the foundation for the jaw muscles that allow you to chew, yawn and talk.
If the muscles and ligaments around the joints become inflamed or irritated, it can cause temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD). Dizziness (vertigo), ear congestion and ringing are among the symptoms of TMD.
How TMJ Causes Dizziness
These signs and symptoms are linked to the vestibular system, which consists of structures in the inner ear and the neurological system that regulates balance and eye movement.
Internal ear sensors track your body’s orientation in space and measure how you react to gravity. These receptors provide messages to vestibular nuclei in the brain, alerting the ocular muscles, limb muscles and core muscles to make the necessary modifications for the user to maintain an upright and balanced position. When these signals are blocked or miscommunicated, the body cannot make necessary changes, leading to trouble maintaining equilibrium.
Not everyone agrees on why TMD is linked to ontological symptoms like vertigo; however, some say it is due to the TMJ’s anatomical and structural components’ proximity to the middle and inner ear. Thus, patients with TMD may experience dizziness owing to inflammation in the TMJ region, which may affect the vestibular nuclei and disrupt the signals.
How TMJ Causes Ear Congestion and Ringing
Tinnitus (a ringing sound in the ear), ear pain and a feeling of fullness (congestion) in the ears are common complaints among those diagnosed with TMD. This is also due to the TMJ’s analogous anatomy to the inner ear and its proximity to it; if the TMJ is damaged, inflamed or otherwise dysfunctional, it can generate sensations in the adjacent structures, leading to these symptoms.
What Can You Do to Treat TMD?
TMJ issues are associated with various uncomfortable symptoms, not only vertigo and tinnitus, all of which could be resolved with treatment. The first thing you must do is visit a TMJ specialist. Dr. Bob Perkins of the Southern California TMJ and Sleep Center is one of the best in the country. If you need TMJ treatment, please call one of our offices. We have one in San Diego, Los Angeles and Malibu.
Posted on Behalf of Bob Perkins DDS