Can Earbuds Cause TMJ?

Are earbuds causing your TMJ pain? Is there anything you can do about it? Find out more here!

Woman dealing with TMJ issues

Earbuds have practically become another part of our bodies, but could they actually be hurting us? Since the appearance of mass-marketed, easily accessible earbuds, more and more people are complaining of ear problems, such as TMJ. Do earbuds actually cause TMJ pain? This short guide will dive into this subject to give you the information you need to make the best choices for your health.

In general, wearing high-quality earbuds does not cause TMJ. However, for those who are suffering from TMJ already, earbuds and headphones choices should be made carefully. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into this topic to help you make the best choices for your health.

What Is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint is the spot that connects the jawbone to the skull. It is in constant motion all day as we speak, chew, yawn, and open our mouths. When people experience problems with this joint, they often simply describe it as TMJ.

Man dealing with jaw pain

What Is The Earbud TMJ Connection?

TMJ can be caused by a number of reasons. Someone who has never put earbuds in can have TMJ problems! However, there are some connections between TMJ and listening devices such as earbuds and headphones.

One of the most common connections can be found with low-quality earbuds. Low-quality earbuds are often sized badly and are made of hard plastic. Earbuds that are made from harder materials cannot fit comfortably in the ear. The earbud will press against the TMJ joint, causing discomfort. This can result in TMJ pain, jaw pain, and headaches.

Another reason why earbuds can cause TMJ issues is that just the presence of something in the ear canal will cause the TMJ joint to not open fully when it is engaged. This can then cause teeth clenching at night while you are sleeping, which causes TMJ issues.

Headphones can also be a culprit. Even though nothing is being inserted into your ear canal, most headphones are designed to fit tightly over your ears. This pressure can cause the muscles of the jaw to clench unconsciously. The jaw muscles clench because, technically, the human ear is not designed to listen to loud noises at close range for long periods of time. Muscle clenching happens automatically.

How Do I Avoid TMJ When Using Earbuds and Headphones?

If you have very serious TMJ problems, you may need to avoid earbuds or headphones altogether. You can talk with your doctor concerning this to find out what the best choice would be.

If you want to avoid or reduce TMJ issues, here are a few steps you can take to protect the joint.

Woman with earbuds and studying on laptop

Use High-Quality Devices

If you purchase high-quality headphones or earbuds you are more likely to find a comfortable fit that will not disrupt the natural movement of the TMJ joint.

Efforts are made by the manufacturers of high-quality earbuds to ensure that the device is designed to fit well in the ear. High-quality headphones will not put unnecessary pressure on the ears.

Do Not Max The Volume

If you turn up the volume, you are putting your health at risk in a couple of different ways. 

Mostly, you are endangering your hearing. Damage to the eardrum can happen gradually over time from long exposure to loud noises. 

You are also increasing your chances of developing or worsening TMJ. Loud noises will cause your jaw to naturally clench. This constant clenching will cause TMJ.

What Are Some Other Causes of TMJ?

The causes of TMJ disorders can vary greatly from person to person, but here are a few of the most common causes.

  • Arthritis – Arthritis is a joint disease that causes swelling and discomfort in all of the joints. It can affect the TMJ joint.
  • Stress – Stress is actually a huge contributor to this disorder. Stress causes jaw clenching and jaw clenching causes TMJ problems.
  • Teeth grinding – Not only does teeth clenching cause TMJ, but also teeth grinding.
  • Medical conditions – Some medical conditions such as a stroke can cause this problem. Any medical condition that might affect the joints or muscle movements could contribute to TMJ issues.

Interesting read – Why Are My Earbuds Zapping Me?

How Do You Treat TMJ?

Although there is no cure for TMJ disorders, there are several natural ways you can treat this problem. Let’s look at a few of these ideas.

  • Consciously rest your jaw throughout the day – This may feel challenging at first if you are not accustomed to it, but this can do a world of good for a tightly clenched jaw. There are many exercises and stretches online that you can learn to help with this
  • Improve your posture – Surprisingly, many joint issues are a result of poor posture
  • Improve your sleep – Getting enough sleep can help to decrease the amount of stress you are under
  • Use hot or cold compresses against the TMJ – This can help to relieve the tension built up in the muscles of the jaw.
  • Reduce your stress levels
  • Exercise the jaw
  • Work to improve bad habits
  • Avoid certain activities or foods that worsen TMJ symptoms
Woman grinding her teeth

Can Medications Help?

Some people do find that over-the-counter medication can help this problem. Some users have seen benefits from using an anti-inflammatory. TMJ pain is caused by inflammation of the joint. Anti-inflammatory medication will relieve some of this inflammation!

If you are experiencing severe TMJ issues, you should see a doctor. Your doctor will be able to discuss other treatment options with you, including prescription medications if that is necessary.

Can A Chiropractor Help?

Many people do visit a chiropractor for their TMJ issues. This professional is trained to relieve the tension in joints and muscles. Most chiropractors specialize in TMJ pain relief.

Can Massage Help?

Yes, massage can help TMJ problems a great deal. To massage the TMJ place 2 or 3 fingers on the muscles below the cheekbones. Press the muscles and hold for 6 to 10 seconds. Relax the muscles and then repeat in other tight areas of the jaw or face.

You may also like to read Is It Safe To Wear Earbuds While Sleeping?