STATEMENT OF PROBLEM: The frequent concurrence of tinnitus and temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscle disorders (TMD) has led to the assumption that a possible relationship exists between these 2 conditions.
PURPOSE: The present prospective clinical study was conducted to assess the possible association between tinnitus and TMD and to investigate the effect of stomatognathic therapy on tinnitus distress.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The prevalence of TMD and tinnitus was investigated in a consecutive series of 951 patients at the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry at the University Medical Center Regensburg, Germany. Patients with TMD and simultaneous tinnitus were included in the prospective clinical trial (n=25). Baseline examination comprised a detailed functional analysis, diagnosis of temporomandibular joint and masticatory muscle disorder, and a tinnitus questionnaire. All the participants received individual dental functional therapy (oral splints, physiotherapy). The effects of functional therapy on TMD and tinnitus symptoms were examined 3 to 5 months after the initiation of dental functional therapy. Means (standard deviations) were calculated, and 1-way ANOVA was used to investigate statistical differences (α=.05). The differences of the 2 binary outcomes were compared with the Pearson χ(2) test, and the relative risk was calculated.
RESULTS: Prevalence of tinnitus was found to be 8 times higher in participants with TMD (30 of 82 [36.6%]) than in participants without TMD (38 of 869 [4.4%]). All the participants with unilateral TMD and unilateral tinnitus showed these conditions on the same side. Stomatognathic therapy improved tinnitus symptoms in 11 of 25 participants (44%).
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study and the prospective clinical trial showed a significant correlation between tinnitus and TMD. The observed treatment outcome suggests that dental functional therapy may have a positive effect on TMD-related tinnitus.