A Guide to Understanding TMJ and Hearing Loss

A Guide to Understanding TMJ and Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can be a result of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues in certain individuals. The auditory system, which includes the outer, middle, and inner ear, can be affected by TMJ disorders. The connection between TMJ disorder and hearing is significant due to the anatomical proximity of the temporomandibular joint to the ear. TMJ edema and inflammation may readily impact the ear as well as other surrounding tissues and structures. The TMJ links the skull to the lower jaw.

Ask your healthcare practitioner to examine you for a TMJ condition if the reason for your hearing loss is still unknown or if you have hearing loss along with symptoms like headaches, jaw clicking, or trouble chewing.

The relationship between TMJ issues and hearing loss is covered in this article. It describes how hearing loss caused by TMJ symptoms may be treated, how the condition is diagnosed, and how it can influence your hearing.

What is TMJ Disorder?

The joint that joins the jaw to the skull is called the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In front of each ear, on either side of the face, is a TMJ. Jaw misalignment is a common cause of TMJ disorders and can lead to various symptoms including discomfort and abnormal jaw movements. These joints provide the motions required for eating, speaking, and expressing facial expressions. Joint sounds, discomfort, and atypical jaw motions can all be signs of TMJ dysfunction.

How TMJ Causes Hearing Loss

Given that the TMJ and middle ear are adjacent, a jaw problem may impair hearing. This ear related condition is believed to arise because pressure or inflammation from the TMJ might impact nearby muscles, nerves, and the auditory nerve, resulting in clogged eustachian tubes; however, the precise cause is unknown. TMJ edema and inflammation may readily impact the ear canal as well as other surrounding tissues and structures.

According to some specialists, disturbed middle-ear/inner-ear pressure homeostasis is the cause of hearing loss connected to TMJ.

When the eustachian tubes cannot adequately drain middle ear fluid, tinnitus and hearing loss may result. Ear congestion is another symptom that can arise from TMJ disorders, further complicating the hearing process. This disorder and hearing loss can significantly affect daily life, underscoring the importance of understanding and treating TMJ-related issues promptly.

Symptoms Of TMJ-related Hearing Loss

TMJ disorders can present a range of symptoms, which may include jaw pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing. Additionally, symptoms of TMJ disorder can extend to ear-related issues such as ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears.

These symptoms are often mistaken for primary ear problems, but they can be a direct result of TMJ dysfunction. Common signs include patients with TMJ disorder often reporting a sensation of ear fullness, which can be a key indicator of the condition.

Here are some common symptoms of TMJ-related hearing loss:

  • Ear pain or discomfort
  • Ringing or buzzing sound in the ears (tinnitus)
  • A feeling of fullness or pressure in the ears
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Trouble hearing or understanding speech, especially in noisy environments
  • Changes in your ability to hear certain frequencies or pitches
  • Clicking, grinding, or popping noises when you move your jaw
  • Sensitivity to loud sounds (hyperacusis)
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when you move your jaw
  • Headaches, particularly around the temples or behind the eyes

Please keep in mind that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Types Of TMJ Related Hearing Loss

TMJ hearing loss can manifest in various forms of hearing impairment, including conductive, sensorineural, and mixed types. The connection between TMJ disorders and hearing problems is complex. The inflammation and muscle tension associated with TMJ disorders can interfere with the Eustachian tube’s function, which helps regulate pressure in the ear. This can lead to symptoms such as ear pain, dizziness, and even experiencing hearing loss.


The transmission of sound waves, or sound transmission, from the middle ear cavity to the inner ear is hindered by this kind of hearing loss. Sounds are softer and less powerful because there is less energy entering the inner ear than there usually is.


The auditory nerve or inner ear malfunction is the cause of this kind of hearing loss. Organ damage in the inner ear, particularly in the cochlea, can also lead to sensorineural hearing loss. It can lead to a metabolic issue in the inner ear fluids or prevent the hair cells from activating the ear’s nerves.


This is a hybrid of the two hearing loss kinds that were previously addressed. Apart from the permanent loss of hearing resulting from inner ear or auditory nerve damage, a malfunctioning middle ear mechanism might also be the reason. Because of this, hearing function is less common than sensorineural loss alone.

Because of its position, jaw joint inflammation and discomfort can spread to the ear. The symptoms of temporomandibular jaw problems impact the ears and hearing in a complete 85% of cases.

Because the TMJ joint is close to the ear, inflammation there may directly affect the ears. It may result in clogged or stuffy ears, discomfort, and hearing loss, among other detrimental consequences on hearing. It may also induce blocked Eustachian tubes.

Treatment for TMJ and Hearing Loss

hearing aid and tmj hearing loss

Your hearing loss may be restored and ear-related symptoms may be relieved with treatment for a TMJ issue. Maintaining good hearing health is crucial, and addressing TMJ disorders can significantly improve it.

The disorder’s etiology may influence the course of treatment. Treatments for TMJ include:

  • Muscle relaxers to relieve tension
  • Mouth guards or splints to ease the tension in the jaw muscles
  • Prescription and over-the-counter analgesics
  • Acupuncture
  • Counseling
  • Strengthening your jaw muscles with physical therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Medical devices that relieve pressure on the jaw joints and improve jaw alignment include orthotics and specially constructed splints.

Medical History and Physical Examination

  • A thorough evaluation begins with a detailed medical history and physical examination. This helps the healthcare provider understand the underlying causes of the TMJ disorder and its impact on hearing. The examination may include assessing the jaw’s range of motion, checking for tenderness or pain, and listening for clicking or popping sounds.


  • In more severe cases, medical procedures might be necessary. This can include corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation or even surgical interventions to repair or replace the TMJ. These treatments can help properly drain fluid if Eustachian tube dysfunction is contributing to hearing issues

It is also recommended that you consult with a hearing expert to determine the amount of your hearing loss and prescribe appropriate hearing aids or assistive devices.

  • Hearing Aids
  • If hearing loss is significant and persistent, hearing aids may be recommended. Many individuals with persistent hearing loss due to TMJ disorder may need to wear hearing aids to improve their hearing function. These devices can amplify sound and improve hearing function, enhancing the quality of life for individuals affected by TMJ-related hearing loss.

In rare circumstances, your doctor could advise seeing an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to fix any TMJ impairment.


Understanding the intricate relationship between TMJ disorders and hearing loss is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment. If you are experiencing hearing loss or other ear-related symptoms, and you suspect a connection to your TMJ, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide a comprehensive evaluation. Proper management of TMJ disorders can alleviate both jaw-related discomfort and associated hearing issues, improving overall well-being.

By addressing the TMJ disorder through a combination of these treatments, both jaw-related discomfort and associated hearing issues can be managed effectively. Always consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your specific condition and medical history.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.


-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being