TMJ and bruxism causing tinnitus

The intricate connection among tinnitus, TMJ disorder, and bruxism is multifaceted, with each condition impacting and intensifying the others.

Can bruxism and TMJ cause tinnitus?

Tinnitus, the sensation of hearing ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ears without any external source, is strongly associated with both TMJ disorder and bruxism. TMJ disorder affects the temporomandibular joint that connects the jaw to the skull, while bruxism involves involuntary grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw. These conditions frequently coexist with tinnitus, forming a complex trio of challenges for both patients and healthcare providers.

Symptoms of TMJ, bruxism and tinnitus

Many individuals encounter the complex challenge of dealing with tinnitus, TMJ disorder, and bruxism simultaneously, where each condition intertwines to create a complicated set of symptoms such as ear pain and tinnitus. This convergence can obscure diagnosis and complicate treatment approaches. Patients often report various discomforts, including:

  1. Persistent ringing or buzzing in the ears, indicating tinnitus
  2. Jaw pain and tenderness, typically associated with TMJ disorder
  3. Headaches, which can be symptomatic of both conditions
  4. Earaches or a sensation of fullness in the ears, potentially linked to TMJ disorder
  5. Difficulty chewing or discomfort while chewing, which may stem from TMJ disorder
  6. Increased intensity of tinnitus following episodes of teeth grinding, a common feature of bruxism

Muscular tension from bruxism can exacerbate temporomandibular joint strain, worsening TMJ disorder symptoms and potentially amplifying tinnitus. This interaction creates a cycle of pain and auditory discomfort that significantly impacts daily life and well-being. It's essential for healthcare providers to comprehend these interconnected symptoms to devise effective treatment strategies.

What does TMJ tinnitus sound like?

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Tinnitus linked with TMJ disorders often presents as a range of auditory sensations like clicking, popping, or grating sounds. Unlike the typical ringing or buzzing associated with other types of tinnitus, these sounds are often more mechanical in nature. TMJ-related tinnitus is believed to originate from the structures surrounding the joint itself, including muscles, ligaments, and bones. Stress, strain, or misalignment of these structures can lead to sounds that synchronize with jaw movements.

It's essential to understand that these sounds are subjective and can vary significantly from person to person.

Can tinnitus caused by TMJ and bruxism be cured?

Restoring proper jaw function is essential in treating tinnitus caused by TMJ disorders or bruxism. Treatment typically involves bite correction and physiotherapy, which have been proven effective in reducing tinnitus severity. Other options include:

  1. Counseling and psychotherapy for stress-related bruxism
  2. Dental restorations like implants or prostheses for missing teeth
  3. Orthodontic realignment with braces
  4. Treatment of jaw inflammation, such as wisdom tooth extraction
  5. Integrated therapies focusing on stress reduction and muscle relaxation
  6. Customized oral appliances to mitigate bruxism's impact on the TMJ and tinnitus
  7. Behavioral interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy and biofeedback
  8. Combined pharmacological and non-pharmacological approaches for comprehensive treatment

The link between toothache and ear

Yes, ear pain can stem from dental issues like bruxism, abscesses, and cavities due to the close proximity of the ear and jaw. Infections from the teeth can spread to the ear, causing pain. Additionally, connections exist between devitalized teeth and tinnitus—a ringing or buzzing in the ear. Factors like arthritis, bruxism, and otitis can contribute to both ear and jaw pain, necessitating medical examination for diagnosis and treatment. Swollen parotid glands, situated between the ear and jaw, may also cause pain and require attention.
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TMJ and ear ringing exercises

Exercises for TMJ disorders and associated ear ringing typically focus on relieving tension, improving jaw mobility, and promoting relaxation of the jaw muscles. While exercises alone may not directly address tinnitus, they can help alleviate TMJ-related symptoms, which may indirectly reduce the perception of ear ringing. Here are some exercises that may be beneficial:

  1. Jaw stretching: Gently open your mouth as wide as comfortable, then close it slowly. Repeat this movement several times
  2. TMJ massage: Use your fingers to gently massage the muscles around your jaw joint in circular motions. Focus on areas of tension or tightness
  3. Chin tucks: Sit or stand with your shoulders relaxed. Gently tuck your chin towards your chest, keeping your head level. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat several times
  4. Resisted mouth opening: Place your thumb under your chin and gently push downward as you try to open your mouth against the resistance. Hold for a few seconds, then relax
  5. Tongue press: Press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Hold for a few seconds, then release
  6. Relaxation techniques: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to reduce overall stress and tension in the body, including the jaw muscles.

Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regimen, especially if you have a pre-existing TMJ disorder or other medical conditions. They can provide personalized recommendations and guidance based on your specific situation.

Night mouth guard


Night mouth guards for bruxism are specialized dental devices designed to be worn during sleep. Their purpose is to provide a protective barrier for the teeth, minimizing the potential damage caused by the unconscious grinding and clenching that occurs during episodes of bruxism. By cushioning and redistributing the forces exerted on the teeth and jaw, these guards help prevent wear, fractures, and other dental complications associated with bruxism.



Botox injections have been explored as a treatment option for bruxism and TMJ disorder targeting the muscles involved in jaw clenching and teeth grinding. By injecting botulinum toxin into specific muscles, botox can temporarily weaken them, reducing the intensity of jaw muscle contractions and alleviating symptoms of bruxism. The effects of botox are temporary and typically last for several months, requiring repeat injections for sustained benefit. Additionally, botox for bruxism is still undergoing research and may not be suitable for everyone, so consultation with a qualified healthcare provider is necessary.



Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine technique, is sometimes used as a complementary therapy for temporomandibular joint disorders and tinnitus. It involves inserting needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and alleviate symptoms. While research on its effectiveness is ongoing, acupuncture may help reduce pain and muscle tension associated with TMJ disorders and alleviate stress-related factors contributing to tinnitus. However, further studies are needed to fully understand its benefits for these conditions.

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FAQs about tinnitus, TMJ and bruxism

Is TMJ tinnitus permanent?

Whether TMJ-related tinnitus is permanent can vary from person to person. In some cases, addressing the underlying TMJ disorder through appropriate treatment measures, such as bite correction, physiotherapy, or other interventions, may lead to improvement or even resolution of the tinnitus. However, in other cases, especially if the underlying TMJ issues are severe or chronic, tinnitus symptoms may persist despite treatment efforts.

It's essential for individuals experiencing TMJ-related tinnitus to seek evaluation and treatment from a healthcare professional specializing in TMJ disorders. They can provide a personalized assessment and recommend the most suitable treatment options based on the individual's specific circumstances.

Why does TMJ and bruxism cause tinnitus?

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders can cause tinnitus through various mechanisms:

  1. Direct mechanical effects: Dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint can result in abnormal movements or positions of the jaw, which may directly affect the nearby structures involved in hearing, such as the inner ear or auditory nerves.
  2. Muscle tension and spasm: TMJ disorders often involve muscle tension and spasms in the muscles surrounding the jaw joint. This increased muscle activity can lead to changes in blood flow and pressure within the head and neck region, potentially affecting the auditory system and contributing to the perception of tinnitus.
  3. Nerve irritation: Dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint can irritate nearby nerves, including the trigeminal nerve, which is closely connected to both the jaw joint and the auditory system. This irritation may lead to abnormal nerve signals being sent to the brain, resulting in the perception of tinnitus.
  4. Eustachian tube dysfunction: TMJ disorders can also affect the function of the Eustachian tube, which helps regulate pressure in the middle ear. Dysfunction of the Eustachian tube can lead to changes in middle ear pressure, which may influence the perception of tinnitus.

Overall, the exact mechanisms underlying the association between TMJ disorders and tinnitus are not fully understood and may vary between individuals. However, it is believed that the close anatomical and functional relationship between the temporomandibular joint and the structures involved in hearing plays a role in this association.

How to know if tinnitus is caused by TMJ/bruxism?

Determining if tinnitus is caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder or bruxism often involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional, typically one specializing in disorders of the jaw and oral health. Here are some steps that may help identify if TMJ or bruxism is contributing to tinnitus:

  1. Medical history: The healthcare provider will likely inquire about your medical history, including any history of TMJ disorder, bruxism, dental issues, jaw injuries, or other related conditions.
  2. Symptoms assessment: Describe your tinnitus symptoms in detail, including when they started, the nature of the sounds you hear, any associated symptoms like jaw pain or headaches, and any factors that may worsen or alleviate the tinnitus.
  3. Physical examination: A physical examination of the jaw, head, and neck may be conducted to assess for signs of TMJ disorder or bruxism, such as jaw tenderness, muscle tension, clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint, or abnormalities in jaw movement.
  4. Dental examination: A dental examination may be performed to evaluate the alignment of your teeth, signs of teeth grinding or clenching, and any dental issues that may contribute to TMJ disorder or bruxism.
  5. Diagnostic tests: In some cases, diagnostic tests such as imaging studies (X-rays, MRI, CT scans) may be ordered to visualize the temporomandibular joint and surrounding structures and to rule out other potential causes of tinnitus.
  6. Trial treatments: Sometimes, a healthcare provider may recommend a trial treatment to see if addressing TMJ disorder or bruxism alleviates tinnitus symptoms. This may include interventions such as bite splints or mouthguards to reduce teeth grinding, physical therapy for TMJ exercises, or dental treatments for bite correction.
  7. Referral to specialists: In some cases, you may be referred to specialists such as an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) or a dentist specializing in TMJ disorders for further evaluation and management.

It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper assessment and diagnosis if you suspect that TMJ disorder or bruxism may be contributing to your tinnitus symptoms. They can provide personalized recommendations and treatment options based on your specific situation.

Does TMJ tinnitus go away?

Tinnitus might resolve if its underlying cause is pinpointed and treated. For instance, if tinnitus stems from TMJ or bruxism, pursuing an appropriate treatment plan, in consultation with a medical specialist to tackle these temporomandibular issues, significantly enhances the likelihood of tinnitus cessation.

Can TMJ cause tinnitus in one ear?

Yes, TMJ disorders can induce tinnitus in one ear. These disorders affect the joint connecting the jaw to the skull, situated just in front of the ear, and may cause various symptoms, including tinnitus. When TMJ disorder is the cause, tinnitus might occur on one side because the condition can impact one side of the jaw more than the other. This tinnitus may present as clicking, ringing, or popping sounds, often more noticeable when moving the jaw, such as during chewing or speaking. It's crucial to have both the TMJ disorder and associated tinnitus assessed by a healthcare professional, as targeted treatment can frequently alleviate these symptoms.

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