Exploratory Review: Temporomandibular Joint and Middle Ear Communication in Fetuses and Infants

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Angela A. Peña Garcia; Janneth R. Zúñiga Prado; Adriana M. Herrera Rubio & Sonia Osorio Toro


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) has important functions for life; its proper functioning can be altered by temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The symptomatology of TMD is varied, including pain in the masticatory muscles, joint noises and less frequently some patients report auditory symptoms, suggesting the existence of a relationship between the TMJ and the middle ear; however, this relationship is not clear. Consequently, the present study aims to conduct a literature review to identify the known, unknown and controversial aspects of the relationship between TMJ and the middle ear in children and fetuses. A literature search was performed in databases using Boolean operators (AND/ OR) and key terms in English and Spanish. A total of 1080 articles were initially identified; duplicate articles were eliminated and inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Finally, a total of 14 articles were selected and reviewed in full text. The studies found focus on the histoembryological development of the TMJ and how that development occurs in conjunction with the middle ear components. Additionally, research on the origin, morphology, and function of the discomalleolar ligament, sphenomandibular ligament, and petrotympanic fissure as structures connecting the TMJ and middle ear was identified, but the results have been controversial. It is concluded that further studies are necessary to determine any anatomical and physiological relationship that may exist between the TMJ and the auditory system in fetuses and children.

KEY WORDS: Temporomandibular joint; Temporomandibular joint disorders; Middle ear; Fetus; Child.


How to cite this article

PEÑA, G. A. A.; ZÚÑIGA, P. J. R.; HERRERA, R. A. M.; OSORIO, T. S. Exploratory review: Temporomandibular joint and middle ear communication in fetuses and infants. Int. J. Morphol. 41(4):1083-1088, 2023.