Tinnitus is a common symptom of TMJ, perhaps the most common after jaw pain and headaches. However, some people are sceptical that jaw problems can actually cause disturbance in your hearing. Now a new approach to restoring hearing to the deaf shows just how intimately our jaws and ears are connected.

The SoundBite Technology

SoundBite is a device that has been developed to help restore hearing in people who have lost hearing in one ear. The device uses a microphone placed in your bad ear to receive the sounds that the deaf person can no longer hear.

When the microphone picks up these sounds, they are transmitted to another unit, a small one that fits around the rearmost molars on one side. This unit receives the signals and transforms them into minute vibrations, which travel through the jawbone into the cochlea, the spiral-shaped bony structure of the inner ear that houses the organ of Corti. This tiny set of pressure-sensitive cells changes vibrations, which may come from the tiny bones of the middle ear or, in this case, from the jawbone, into nerve impulses that the brain interprets as sound.

The device uses come complex computing to alter the sound signals to better replicate the experience of having the sound come from the other ear, but most of the work is done by your brain, which learns not only to receive the sound, but to sort it out.

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Insight into TMJ and Tinnitus

Tinnitus is sound that a person hears without any external sound being produced. This sound must be produced from inside the body. Some research suggests that in some cases this sound is actually being produced in the brain. However, there are many kinds of tinnitus, and it seems likely that at least in some of these cases the sound is being produced by the jawbone or jaw muscles.

The SoundBite technology shows just how sensitive the inner ear is to pressure that can come from the jawbone. Since the jawbone meets up directly with the temporal bone that houses the cochlea, it’s likely that pressure from the jawbone could result in the production of sound from inside the ear.

We know that TMJ treatment can reduce or eliminate tinnitus for some people. If you are looking for treatment of your tinnitus, a TMJ evaluation can help you understand whether treatment can help you.

To schedule a TMJ evaluation, please contact My Hills Dentist in the Baulkham Hills area of Sydney.