Suffering from ear and eye pain? Maybe it’s not all in your head
You might have seen a doctor, complaining of ringing in the ears, yet nothing has been diagnosed. You explain your symptoms, your doctor shines a light, takes a look around and can’t find anything wrong. Still, you know that ringing sound is real and you know occasionally you’re hit with waves of dizziness so strong you are forced to hold on to something.
Lethbridge dentist Dr. Lachman explains one cause of ear and eye pain:
“Ear congestion, persistent ear aches, dizziness, vertigo, ringing or whistling in the ears… these can all be traced back to TMJD, a painful disorder caused by the way in which your teeth bite together. TMJD is the result of stressed jaw muscles working overtime to compensate for the bad bite.”
As for eye pain problems, symptoms like a stabbing sensation behind your eyes, pain in your eyebrow area, unexpected eye twitches, or eye swelling, can also be an indication of a jaw joint disorder.
Technically (and medically) here’s what is going on
The bite problem that’s so often behind TMJD pain is commonly due to an alignment issue with your upper and lower teeth. When the two don’t match up as they should, you are forced to use your jaw muscles incorrectly. This can cause repetitive strain injuries and affect the position of your head, and your body as a whole.
Once your jaw muscles are strained, other facial muscles, ligaments and nerves are impacted which can cause, among other TMJD symptoms, ear and eye pain.
What’s behind your ear pain?
Your ear has two important muscles:
- The tensor tympani attaches to the eardrum, stabilizing it from the excess vibration caused by loud sounds.
- The tensor levi palatin attaches to the Eustachian tube helping to equalizing pressure within the inner ear. It is what “unplugs” your ears when you chew gum or suck a hard candy in an airplane.
On top of the muscles that can be affected by a misaligned jaw, there is a ligament that can be affected as well. It’s called Pinto’s ligament, and it connects the malleus of the inner ear with the articular disc and the temporal mandibular joint capsule.
When the Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) is not functioning correctly; the articular disc is often stretched out of normal position which strains Pinto’s ligament. Pinto’s ligament then causes movement of the malleus which TMJD patients notice as ringing in the ears, a congested feeling in the ears, and /or a sensation of dizziness.
What’s going on with your eyes?
The cause of jaw related eye pain problems is due to pressure on the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is responsible for the sensations you feel in your head. When it becomes compressed by overly tight jaw muscles, it can cause referred pain. Referred pain is pain that is felt in one place, in this case your eyes, but originates in another.
Stabilizing your jaw may help to relieve ear or eye pain
Stabilizing your jaw to its proper alignment can restore your bite back to its normal position, and could relieve ear and eye pain caused by the misaligned bite.
If you would like to learn more about TMJD disorder treatment options and how they might relieve your ear and eye pain, please schedule a consultation.