Objective: Tinnitus is frequently associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. However, the nature of the relationship is not fully understood. Here the authors compared 30 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of temporomandibular joint dysfunction and tinnitus to a group of 61 patients with tinnitus but without any subjective complaints of TMJ dysfunction with respect to clinical and demographic characteristics.
Study design: Case-control study.
Setting: Tertiary referral center.
Subjects: Tinnitus patients with and without TMJ dysfunction presenting at the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry and th: Tinnitus Clinic at the University of Regensburg.
Results: Tinnitus patients with TMJ disorder had better hearing function (P < .0005), lower age (P = .001), and lower age at tinnitus onset (P = .002) and were more frequently female (P = .003). Their subjectively perceived tinnitus loudness was lower (P = .01), and more of them could modulate their tinnitus by jaw or neck movements (P = .001).
Conclusion: Classical risk factors for tinnitus (age, male gender, hearing loss) are less relevant in tinnitus patients with TMJ disorder, suggesting a causal role of TMJ pathology in the generation and maintenance of tinnitus. Based on this finding, treatment of TMJ disorder may represent a causally oriented treatment strategy for tinnitus.