In a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP 0), temporomandibular disorders (TMD) were the strongest predictors for tinnitus beside headache. The aim of this study was to investigate whether signs and symptoms of TMD can be identified as risk factors for developing tinnitus. The SHIP 1 is a population-based 5-year longitudinal study intended to systematically describe the prevalence of and risk factors for diseases common in the population of Pomerania in northern Germany. A total of 3300 subjects (76% response) were reevaluated after 5 years for tinnitus and signs and symptoms of TMD using the same questionnaires and examination tools as baseline. To estimate the relative risk (RR) appropriately, a modified Poisson regression was used. After exclusion of prevalent cases with diagnosed tinnitus, 3134 subjects were analysed. Among the 191 exposed subjects with palpation pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), 24 subjects (12·6%) received diagnosed tinnitus after 5 years, whereas among the 2643 unexposed subjects 142 subjects (5·8%) received tinnitus yielding a risk difference of 7·7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3·0%–12·5%) and a risk ratio of 2·60 (95% CI: 1·7–3·9). The risk ratio was 2·4 (95% CI: 1·6–3·7) after adjustment for gender, age, school education and frequent headache. Pain on palpation of the TMJ, however, did not worsen the prognosis for tinnitus in prevalent tinnitus cases (RR = 0·8,P= 0·288). Signs of TMD are a risk factor for the development of tinnitus.