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Can TMJ Cause Dizziness (and How Can I Treat It)?

6 min read
by Dylan Hao |

When you’re dealing with TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues, you expect to have symptoms like pain in your jaw and headaches. But suddenly, you’re feeling dizzy, with no apparent reason for it.

Could this be another effect of your TMJ disorder?

There are many reasons for dizziness, including TMJ. Some are minor and easily corrected; others are more serious.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to recognize whether your signs of a spinning room are related to TMJ and how to treat them if they are.

Understanding the Connection Between Your TMJ and Your Brain

The lower jaw and skull are closely connected to the brain, with the jaw linked to the skull by the TMJ. 

When a misalignment in the body happens, nerve messengers tell the brain. But when that dislocated area is in the jaw or ear, the pathway from the messengers to the brain is disrupted, and those connections aren’t always sent correctly.

Why Dizziness Happens

Ongoing problems with your TMJ that don’t go away on their own are called temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs).

With a TMD, your jaw joints become inflamed. When that happens, the inflammation can reach your inner ears, which are behind and above your jaw joints. 

The inner ear is a separate organ containing the sensors that tell your brain about your body's position and movement. In a nutshell, this organ is highly responsible for your balance and ability to stay upright. 

Inflammation around the ears (including in your jaw) disrupts the messenger’s signals, resulting in feelings of dizziness or unexplained bouts of clumsiness. 

In severe instances, it can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Ongoing dizziness is called vertigo.

TMDs and Their Ability to Tell Lies

Although there are dozens of types of TMDs, they are all characterized by an imbalanced jaw that puts too much stress on the TMJ. The muscles in the neck and shoulders become tight, and those tense tissues extend throughout your body as your brain tries to regain its balance. 

In the meantime, that out-of-whack jaw joint continues to intercept and send inaccurate messages to your brain, telling it things about your positioning and sensations that don’t make sense to the other messages received.

This behind-the-scenes science explains why focusing on cognitive tasks is so much harder when we’re hurting. Those who suffer from TMJ disorders have an even more difficult time accurately tracking their pain. The various messages coming through might or might not be valid!

TMJ Dizziness and Its Symptoms

Studies show a strong link between TMDs and vertigo, but how do you know if your dizziness is related to your jaw or something more serious?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a TMD, you could have one or many of its various symptoms. The condition always involves the masticatory (chewing) muscles, the TMJ, and the ear region. It makes sense that one of the sensations that goes along with a TMD is dizziness, but vertigo is a sign of many other conditions, too.

While the research isn’t unanimous, there are some other symptoms that tend to link dizziness with TMDs rather than other conditions. If you have any of the following signs — in addition to your jaw muscle pain and balance concerns — there’s a good chance that your joint disorder and dizziness are related:

  • Tinnitus (ongoing and uncontrollable ringing in the ears)
  • Pain in the inner ear
  • Fullness/pressure in the ear
  • Loss of hearing (mild to severe)

These are otologic (related to the ear) symptoms. Since the signals transmitted from the TMJ to the middle ear are irritated, it’s common to have these four side effects with a chronic TMD.

When the jaw muscles are overworked, as is common with TMDs and a condition called bruxism, some of the delicate ear parts contract.

Other Causes of Vertigo and Their Symptoms

Not every bout of dizziness is TMD-related, and not every instance is vertigo. This label refers to the sensation that you’re spinning or moving to the point it makes you dizzy (not lightheaded). 

With occasional dizziness, the sensation passes quickly and is due to a specific situation, like a spinning ride at an amusement park. Vertigo happens without reason, or if that ride makes the sensation significantly worse. 

Vertigo can result from many potential issues, ranging from mild to severe. 

When to See a Doctor

Vertigo, by itself, usually isn’t anything to be concerned about. When the symptoms pass, you can resume your normal daily activities. However, the underlying cause of your dizziness might be more serious.

Talk to your doctor if your vertigo symptoms continue or are accompanied by any of the following signs:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unfocused eyes, uncontrolled eye movements, or double vision
  • Facial paralysis
  • Hearing loss
  • Falls due to loss of balance
  • Tinnitus
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness

Your healthcare provider will review your history and symptoms and look for visible signs of vertigo. They may also refer you for blood tests, an EEG (electroencephalogram), a head CT or MRI, or other radiography. 

The results of these tests will determine your treatment plan, which often includes physical therapy to improve balance and medications to stop nausea and vomiting.

Treating TMJ-Related Vertigo

So, with all of this information at your disposal, you’ve learned that your lightheadedness and body balance issues are related to your temporomandibular dysfunction.

What’s next?

Treatment for TMJ-related vertigo and its related symptoms can be done at home along with your specialist’s recommendations. 

At-Home Preventative Care

How can you avoid feeling like your world is spinning out of control and your jaw pain will never go away?

Some of these simple preventative TMJ treatment methods could help reduce the frequency of your symptoms:


TMJ disorders frequently stem from bruxism, a condition caused most often by stress. By adding supplements like Vitamins A, C, E, and zinc to your day, you may notice a little relief from your pain and a reduction of your stress symptoms.

Lifestyle Changes

Besides boosting your vitamin intake, changing your lifestyle will help your overall health, including your vestibular system damage. Getting more active, quitting smoking, and eating better have a domino effect of positive consequences on your internal systems. 

Night Guards

Night guards are devices made for bruxers that are worn over the upper or lower teeth while you sleep. This protection reduces the damage to the TMJ and teeth from jaw clenching and teeth grinding. 

If you have a severe TMJ dysfunction, your doctor may recommend a special oral splint.

Otherwise, check out the high-quality, custom-made night guards we offer at JS Dental Lab.

Stress Reduction

Finding ways to reduce your stress might sound easier said than done. But when you experience dizziness and facial pain frequently, self-care through stress reduction is essential. 

Before you find yourself off-balance, practice deep breathing techniques, turn on some soft elevator or classical music, and try to relax. 

Dietary Changes

This preventative step isn’t focused on the nutritional element of your diet. Instead, it’s all about watching the type of food you eat and avoiding sticky, chewy, and hard items that overwork your chewing muscles.

Try to eat as many soft foods as possible to reduce the effort of your jaw movement while your symptoms of TMJ are active, or your TMD is in recovery. This includes skipping chewing gum and putting a kibosh on your habits of biting your nails or eating ice.

Reducing the Symptoms of TMJ Vertigo

The key here is to focus on preventative approaches that get down to the root of the problem rather than relying on prescription or over-the-counter medications to relieve your suffering after it already happened. 

But if it’s too late and your earaches and neck pain are on the rise — and your sense of balance is on the fall — try these tried-and-true techniques to get your equilibrium back on track:

  • Lay down in a quiet, dark room on your back and apply heat or ice to the jaw and ear area.
  • Cover your eyes with a dark cloth.
  • Move slowly and avoid turning your head quickly.
  • Use a walking stick if you are in danger of falling.
  • Sleep with your head elevated.
  • Get up slowly and stand still for a few seconds until you’ve regained your balance.

Stress and anxiety are triggers for vertigo, so ensuring you do as little as possible to add to your stress level is essential. Don’t bend over when you need to pick something up; instead, squat down slowly and avoid lowering your head.

The fewer motions you make with your neck, the more likely you are to get through this bout of vertigo quickly.

Once you can move more easily, if the dizziness doesn’t pass, massage therapy (either professional or at home) may help. You might also want to visit your dentist to determine if a dental issue is causing extra pressure on your TMJ or impacting your ears.


TMDs are challenging enough to deal with, but when you add dizziness to your list of symptoms, you want to get rid of the problem fast

These tips will help you recognize whether you need to see a specialist, or if your vertigo is TMJ-related and can be addressed at home with a few lifestyle changes and a night guard from JS Dental Lab.

Learn more: Read This Before You Buy a Night Guard Online

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