After jaw pain and headaches, ear-related symptoms are the most disruptive symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD). And now it turns out that there may be another annoying symptom of TMJ that hasn’t been recognized before.

A new study shows that ear pruritus, “itchy ear,” may be associated with TMJ.

woman with an itchy ear, suffering from TMJ

Ear Related Symptoms of TMJ

Ear-related symptoms are very common in TMJ. Some studies show that over 90% of people with TMJ experience ear-related symptoms. However, more reliable estimates say about 70-80% of TMJ sufferers have ear-related symptoms. Among the common ear-related symptoms experienced by people with TMJ are:

  • Ear fullness
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vertigo
  • Dizziness

The closeness of the ear to the temporomandibular joint makes the overlap of symptoms natural. In fact, the temporal bone, part of the joint, actually houses the delicate structures of the inner ear. When the joint experiences pressure, that pressure could manifest in ear symptoms. Jaw clenching and ear fullness seem a natural combination. The clenched jaw puts pressure on the ear, creating a sensation of fullness. And the jaw and ear are connected by tiny ligaments. Plus, nerves running from the ear have to go past the joint and interweave with jaw muscles. This means that any type of jaw disorder or displacement could pressure those nerves, leading to long-term or transient symptoms.

Pay attention to the timing of your ear symptoms. Do they seem to come during or after bouts of jaw clenching, potentially related to stress? If so, then it’s likely that TMJ is the cause.

Is Itchy Ear a New TMJ Symptom?

With all the ear symptoms currently reported, it would not be inconceivable that there might be other ear-related symptoms to be discovered. Researchers stumbled upon the high prevalence of itchy ear when studying the prevalence of ear-related symptoms in 100 TMJ patients. This study showed an unusually high concentration of ear-related symptoms: 92% of patients reported ear complications.

Several ear symptoms were correlated with the prevalence of TMJ symptoms, such as ear pain, ear fullness, ringing in the ears, and ear pruritus.

It might seem unusual that TMJ could cause itchiness, but it’s actually not that hard to accept. Itchiness is often a symptom of light pressure on a nerve that is carrying pain signals. In this respect, it’s similar to tingling and numbness experienced in the fingers. Some people might even experience ear tingling instead of itchiness.

TMJ Treatment Can Improve Ear-Related Symptoms

Although no studies have looked at the effectiveness of TMJ treatment on itchy ear, many studies have shown that TMJ treatment is effective for reducing ear-related symptoms. Studies show that most ear-related symptoms improve with TMJ treatment. So if you’re struggling with symptoms like tinnitus, vertigo, ear pain, ear fullness, and even itchy ears, you should talk to a TMJ dentist about your symptoms. It might also be able to help with some other TMJ Symptoms that You Might Not Recognize.

For help with ear-related TMJ symptoms in the Hilton Head area, please call (843) 706-2999 today for an appointment at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry.