Understanding Vertigo

Vertigo is a balance disorder. It occurs when your brain gets mixed signals about motion and position. Your brain uses three different inputs to balance you: your eyes, your body’s sense of the position of different parts relative to each other, and your vestibular system.

The vestibular system is a series of fluid-filled canals in the inner ear that sense motion and orientation changes. Tiny hairs in the canals register fluid movement, so you know when you’re moving. This mechanism is why you often feel dizzy after spinning. Spinning gets the fluid moving and doesn’t stop when you stop. It’s just like stirring a pitcher of Kool-Aid: the Kool-Aid doesn’t stop just because you stop stirring. So your vestibular system tells you that you’re still moving, but the other parts of the balance system say you’re not, making you dizzy.

In vertigo, something is creating a similar sensation in your vestibular system. This makes you feel as if you’re spinning when you’re not.

What Causes Vertigo?

Vertigo stems from a balance disorder where the brain receives conflicting signals about motion and position. To maintain balance, your brain relies on three primary sources: visual input, body proprioception, and the vestibular system in the inner ear. With its fluid-filled canals and sensory hair cells, the vestibular system detects motion and orientation changes. Anomalies in this system, like the lingering dizziness post-spinning, can mislead the brain into perceiving motion, setting the stage for vertigo.

Vertigo Types and Common Triggers:
Vertigo is typically classified into peripheral and central, with the former being more common and arising from bodily issues rather than brain-centric problems. Aside from TMJ, common triggers for peripheral vertigo include:

  • Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
  • Certain medications
  • Physical injuries
  • Vestibular nerve inflammation
  • Inner ear infections or irritations
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Vestibular nerve compression

There aren’t always good diagnostic tools to determine the cause of vertigo. Many cases of dizziness cannot be linked to a specific cause.

How TMJ Causes Vertigo

We are not entirely clear how TMJ leads to vertigo. However, there are many potential links between the conditions. TMJ can cause excessive pressure on the temporal bone, which houses the tiny structures of the inner ear. In addition, the jaw and jaw muscles are connected to and overlap nerves that carry signals from the vestibular system to the brain. Displaced or overdeveloped jaw structures can put excessive pressure on the vestibular nerve, causing it to send distress signals to the brain, which the brain interprets as movement signals.

Cranio Cervical Mandibular DysfunctionTMJ Treatment Is Effective on Vertigo

TMJ treatment aims to alleviate vertigo by addressing the underlying tension and positional anomalies associated with TMJ disorders. A clinical trial cited remarkable success, with all participating vertigo complainants reporting relief post-TMJ treatment. Under Dr. Haddad’s care, many have found respite from vertigo and other TMJ-induced symptoms.

When to Get TMJ Treatment for Vertigo

TMJ is a common cause of vertigo, but it’s not the only cause. Here’s a guide to when you should get TMJ treatment for your vertigo.

You’ve Eliminated Common Causes

First, talk to your doctor about some common causes of vertigo, such as BPPV, injury, or inflammation. Review the common side effects of any medications you’re taking to see if vertigo might be among them.

Consider whether you have symptoms of Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease also responds well to TMJ treatment.

Jaw Movement and Activity Affect Vertigo

Check whether moving your jaw in certain ways can trigger your vertigo. If it can, then TMJ is likely the cause. Another sign to watch out for is if your vertigo symptoms occur when you use your jaw excessively: talking a lot, chewing hard foods, or yawning wide, for example.

You Have Other TMJ Symptoms

Check out the list of TMJ symptoms. Not everyone with TMJ has all the symptoms, but if you have several more on the list besides your vertigo, consider whether your vertigo might be linked to TMJ.

Other Treatments Aren’t Working

Although we don’t have suitable treatments for vertigo, there are several things that doctors may try. However, if these treatments don’t work, your doctor may tell you you must learn to live with vertigo.

Don’t accept that you can’t get help. Instead, talk to a TMJ dentist. They will have a different perspective and can help you try other approaches to get relief.

Relief from Vertigo in Detroit

Are you struggling with vertigo in Detroit? Reach out to TMJ dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad. Call (248) 480-0085 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness in Rochester Hills and embark on a journey toward vertigo relief.

Self Screening: Are You at Risk for TMJ?

young woman suffering from TMJ pain rubs the side of her mouth

TMJ is commonly misdiagnosed. Use our custom self-assessment to determine if you should talk to a TMJ dentist about your symptoms