Pain in the ears, tinnitus, feeling of clogged ears and popping sounds can all be caused by the way the way the lower jaw closes. The pain feels like it is totally in the ear but for TMD sufferers, it is the joint complex more than the ear.
Look at the diagram at the bottom on the left. It shows the anatomy of a healthy TMJ joint. When the joint is in the right position and the articular disc is where is supposed to, there is no ear or joint pain and no popping sounds. If on the other hand, the jaw closes in such a way that it is driven back, the joint position changes because it too is pushed back. This changes the anatomy; the disc slips in front of the joint and pressure is put on the nerve bundles called the Retrodiscal Laminae. When this happens, major pain can be the consequence.
The other image on the right shows the close relationship of the jaw joint and the ear canal. The pain from pressure on the retrodiscal pad radiates into the ear canal and in the tiny inner ear muscles. The pain can be mild to severe and create the feeling of clogged ear, ringing of the ears, sometimes dizziness and certainly pain to the touch around the ear and joint area. Pain in the ears, tinnitus, feeling of clogged ears and popping sounds can all be caused by the way the way the lower jaw closes. The pain feels like it is totally in the ear but for TMD sufferers, it is the joint complex more than the ear. So why is the jaw pushed back? The answer is the way the upper and lower jaw come together. If the lower jaw can close in a relaxed position with the upper jaw, it is not a problem. If the upper jaw is too small, the lower jaw has to pull back in order for the back teeth to come together. The teeth literally drive the lower jaw backwards into the ear area. Every time one chews or swallows with this kind of improper jaw/teeth relationship something has to give over time. In the case of ear pain, it is the joint being pushed too far back into the nerves and blood vessels of the retrodiscal pad. In the case of migraine or tension like headaches it is the overworking of the muscles, in trying to get a good fit that causes muscle trigger point pain.
Not everyone who has a “bad bite” has TMD pain like symptoms. Since there is no pain, these patients put a tremendous pressure on their teeth no different than a set of unbalanced gears in a car. So if you have worn, broken down teeth and way too many root canals now you know the cause. Dentists were not trained about TMD/TMJ in dental school. Treatment is a new plastic orthotic that fits over the lower teeth like in the YouTube video below. The secret is for the dentist to know where to put the new bite.