By Dr. Frederick Abeles
Published June 26, 2022
By Dr. Frederick Abeles
Published June 26, 2022
The answer is yes, TMJ can cause dizziness. But understand, there are several causes of dizziness and vertigo. TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder is only one of them. The key is to determine if TMJ is the cause – or is it something else?
Picture this. You’re getting ready to meet your friends for dinner. It’s your first night out in three months. All of a sudden, the room starts spinning. You can’t even stand. You plop down in the chair, close your eyes and hope to God it passes quickly.
A few minutes later you slowly open your eyes. Damn. The room’s still spinning. You start to feel a bit nauseated and a bead of sweat breaks out on your brow.
One thing’s for sure. You’re definitely not going out to dinner tonight. Next stop… straight to bed.
You’ve just had an attack of vertigo. What happened? What caused it? How long will it last? How can you get rid of it?
First, we need a brief anatomy lesson.
We have three things that send a signal to our brain about our position and balance.
One. Our eyes. Our eyes send a signal to our brain if we’re moving or stationary.
Two. Our muscles. Our muscles have a sensory system built into them called proprioception. Our muscles send a signal to our brain whether we’re moving or still.
Three. Our ears. Our ears have a sensory system built into them. Three tiny, delicate, semicircular canals in our inner ear. They’re fluid-filled tubes that send signals to our brain if we’re moving or stationary.
If all three are in sync, i.e., sending the same signal… we’re good to go.
But if our eyes and muscles say we’re stationary and our ears say we’re moving… the brain doesn’t know what to do with the conflicting signals. The result. We’re dizzy.
Say we just got off a roller coaster. We get out and stand up. Our eyes send a signal that we’re stationary, standing there not moving. Our muscles send a signal that we’re stationary. But the fluid in the tiny tubes in our ears is still moving a bit and sends a signal that we’re moving.
The brain can’t process the disparate signals – and we feel a little bit dizzy when we get off the roller coaster.
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects your lower jaw to your head. The ball inside the socket of the TMJ gets positioned by your bite (how your teeth fit together).
If your bite is positioning the ball too far up into the socket or too far back into the socket, the additional pressure on the temporal bone housing the joint (the temporal bone houses both the TMJ and the inner ear) has pressure on it that can disrupt the tiny, delicate semicircular canals which are part of our balance organ.
So, an improper bite can misplace the ball in the socket of the TMJ which can adversely affect the semicircular canals in our middle ear which can send a bad signal to our brain which can make us have vertigo and feel dizzy, nauseous and disoriented. Whew! Got it?
And the dizziness can last for a few seconds or a few days. The severity of the attack varies greatly. For some people it’s an occasional, minor annoyance. For others, it’s completely debilitating and they cannot function normally.
Job number one for us is to determine as quickly as possible, if your dizziness is caused by an underlying TMJ problem or not. In other words, we want to rule in or rule out if TMJ is the cause of your vertigo.
If you have other symptoms of TMJ such as clicking, popping or locking in your jaw joints when you open, close, chew – or pain around the jaw joints, head or neck… then there’s an increased likelihood that your vertigo/dizziness is in fact caused by a TMJ problem.
If it’s TMJ-related… we can help. If it’s not TMJ-related, we can refer you for the proper evaluation and treatment elsewhere, having determined that TMJ is not the cause.
“If you are considering treatment with Dr. Abeles’ method, then you’re making a very wise choice. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Over the past three years, I have lived with severe TMJ, to the point where the quality of my life was at an all-time low. I had acquired debilitating tinnitus and hearing loss in my left ear, could barely walk a straight line from the dizziness, and the pressure and pain in my ear was absolutely unbearable.
I had been to many, many different doctors and none of them could help ease any of my symptoms. Then I stumbled upon Dr. Abeles and his amazing staff! Within months, I was able to walk normally, the tinnitus was reduced to a low humming sound that’s acceptable and I can function like a normal person again. I never thought I would find relief, but this practice has mastered reducing the painful effects of TMJ and they have drastically improved my quality of life.
They have made enormous efforts to help me and I am forever in their debt. If you are considering treatment with Dr. Abeles’ method, then you’re making a very wise choice. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Thank you all for taking such amazing care of me and investing so much in my health!!
With much gratitude!
– Kimberly Coyne
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