Temporomandibular disorders and Vertigo

Let’s continue our discussion of temporomandibular disorders and their related symptoms. Vertigo — the sensation of feeling dizzy and off-balance — is another common aspect of temporomandibular disorders. Vertigo is often connected to sensations of confusion, nausea, lightheadedness, and the feeling that you are being pulled downward. For obvious reasons, it can be very disorienting and upsetting for patients to experience vertigo with their TMDs; learn more about TMD-related vertigo below.

How does a TMD relate to vertigo?

As explained in our previous article, the temporomandibular joint’s location is central to many other important parts of the human body. Pain and pressure on the TMJ can negatively impact the ear canals, as well as the overall jaw and head.

There are two things to focus on when it comes to TMDs and vertigo.

1. Bite alignment. Bite down for a moment and notice how your jaw and teeth settle. Do some of your teeth stack on top of one another uncomfortably? Is it difficult for you to bite and chew while you eat a meal? If so, perhaps you suffer from bite misalignment, which is commonly fixed in one’s youth with braces. But, some folks have more complex bite issues than others and will need further treatment to correct their bite. Bite misalignment can cause pain, headaches, nausea, and vertigo — as well as TMDs. Unfortunately, there’s a large amount of symptom cross-over here, so work with your dentist on a treatment plan to correct one, and you’ll often correct the other in the process.

2. The inner ear. It turns out that the inner ear and the jaws share a common ligament — so these bones and tissues are extremely connected in how they impact the temporomandibular joint. Pain or trauma occurring to one of them often means that will impact both of them.

What are some other symptoms to be aware of?

Know that with TMDs, you may experience the clicking or popping of the jaw joints, pain, headaches and or migraines, limited movement of the jaw when chewing or speaking or yawning, ear ringing, and sleep apnea. Evidently, this can massively impact your quality of life — so it’s key that you contact your dental care provider should you be experiencing these symptoms so they can correct them as soon as possible.

Several treatment options for TMDs that will also relieve vertigo include:

1. TENS therapy — transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation that forces the jaw muscles to relax and settle into their natural positions.

2. TMJ orthotics — mouthguards that protect your teeth and jaw from overuse and clenching while you sleep, which can nearly immediately reduce vertigo for patients.

3. Restorative dentistry — further dental work to correct your bite from.

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