Can TMJ Cause Dizziness? Understanding the Connection between TMJ Disorders and Tinnitus



Tinnitus, often characterized by ringing or buzzing sounds in the ears, is commonly associated with age- or noise-related hearing loss. However, recent evidence suggests that temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders may be an underlying cause of tinnitus in some cases, rather than hearing loss alone.

In this article, we explore the link between tinnitus and TMJ disorders, particularly focusing on the potential relationship between TMJ disorders and dizziness. We also discuss available treatments that may provide relief for both conditions.

What Are TMJ Disorders?

TMJ disorders refer to conditions affecting the temporomandibular joints, which connect the lower jaw to the skull on both sides of the face. Located just in front of the ears, these joints support the jaw muscles necessary for activities such as eating, yawning, and speaking.

Causes of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders are often caused by inflammation or irritation of the ligaments and muscles surrounding the joints. Some potential causes include:

  1. Grinding teeth during sleep (bruxism)
  2. Arthritis in the jaw
  3. Trauma to the head or neck
  4. Malocclusion (overbite or underbite)
  5. Dislocation of the TMJ disk

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Clicking or popping sound in the jaw
  • Pain in the jaw and ear
  • Headache
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Jaws that lock in an open or closed position

The Impact of TMJ Disorders on Tinnitus

Research indicates that individuals with TMJ disorders are more likely to experience tinnitus compared to those without such disorders. This association can be attributed to the proximity of the inner ear to the TMJ.

The cochlea, a part of the inner ear, converts sound waves into electrical impulses, which the brain interprets as recognizable sounds. Damage to the hair cells within the cochlea can trigger tinnitus.

Since the cochlea is situated near the temporomandibular joint, inflammation and irritation in the joint can potentially harm the cochlea and other parts of the inner ear, leading to subjective tinnitus.

Subjective Tinnitus vs. Objective Tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is the most common form, where the person with tinnitus hears noises that are not generated by an external sound source and cannot be heard by others.

Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, is a rarer form characterized by sounds that can be caused by internal circulatory functions or structural abnormalities within the ear. These sounds may be loud enough to be audible to other people.

TMJ Disorders, Tinnitus, and Dizziness

A recent study revealed that TMJ disorders and tinnitus often coexist, primarily affecting individuals assigned female at birth and younger than the average tinnitus patient. In this subgroup, tinnitus tends to be severe and accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, vertigo, neck pain, and a reduced quality of life.

Can Treating TMJ Disorders Improve Tinnitus Symptoms?

Tinnitus associated with TMJ disorders is sometimes classified as somatic tinnitus, which is caused by musculoskeletal issues. Researchers have observed that people with both tinnitus and TMJ disorders may form a specific subtype of tinnitus, given their responsiveness to specific treatments.

Studies have indicated that certain movements of the head and jaw, as well as music and sound stimulation, can help reduce tinnitus symptoms in individuals with TMJ disorders. However, further research is needed to confirm the connection between treating TMJ disorders and alleviating tinnitus.

Nevertheless, the American Tinnitus Association supports the treatment of TMJ disorders to relieve tinnitus resulting from joint problems.

Possible Treatments for TMJ Disorders

Several treatment options are available for TMJ disorders, aiming to alleviate both tinnitus and jaw pain. These include:

  • Medications, such as muscle relaxants and antidepressants
  • Following a soft food diet
  • Dental treatments, including bite realignment
  • Using mouth guards to prevent tooth grinding
  • Applying oral splints to realign the eardrum
  • Engaging in physical therapy to stretch and strengthen jaw muscles
  • Corticosteroid injections into the joint
  • Minimally invasive surgical procedures, such as arthrocentesis
  • Open joint surgery (arthrotomy)

When to Seek Help for TMJ Disorders and Tinnitus

TMJ disorders and tinnitus can significantly impact one’s quality of life. If you experience TMJ disorders or symptoms of tinnitus in one or both ears, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if these conditions interfere with your daily activities or contribute to feelings of anxiety or depression.

Treatment options exist for both tinnitus and TMJ disorders. Your current healthcare professional can guide you in finding the most suitable specialist to address your symptoms.


Research indicates that TMJ disorders can be a contributing factor to tinnitus, particularly in younger individuals and those assigned female at birth. When TMJ disorders cause tinnitus, treatments targeted at the underlying cause may help alleviate symptoms.

Consulting with a doctor or dentist about potential treatments and the most appropriate approach for your situation is recommended. By addressing TMJ disorders, you may find relief from associated tinnitus symptoms as well.