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Connecting the Dots | Tooth Decay & Hearing Loss

tooth and hearing loss

You’ve learned about the connection between dental health and heart health, right? But have you read about the link between tooth decay and hearing loss? It’s true; taking care of your chompers may also help you maintain your hearing!

Continue reading to learn about yet another interesting way that the various parts of your body are connected.

Blaming Bacteria That Starts in the Mouth

The nasty bacteria that are able to thrive in your mouth and wreak havoc there also have the potential to get into your bloodstream. Once there, the bacteria are capable of traveling to other parts of your body, causing further damage. Scary, right?

Basically, when you aren’t keeping the bacteria in your mouth in check with a consistent at-home oral hygiene routine and regular trips to the dentist, you’re upping the odds that the bacteria will travel into the blood, leading to inflammation. Your blood vessels and arteries might end up becoming narrower than they should be, and that may, in turn, adversely affect your hearing. But the worst part is that, if hearing loss does occur, it might be permanent!

Wait, how do blood vessels play a role in your ability to hear? Well, the hair cells in the ear could become damaged, or even die, when blood vessels become narrow because the cells will no longer receive enough blood. Beyond that, however, bacteria that originated in the mouth might also cause inflammation within blood vessels in your brain, and that may end up reducing blood flow to the area of your brain that receives information through the auditory nerve, thereby impacting your ability to hear clearly. Who knew?!

Pro tip:The simple act of brushing and flossing daily is an important step in keeping harmful bacteria in your mouth in check. Cleaning your teeth and gums could help reduce the odds of infection and gum disease, as well as the growth of bacteria associated with these oral health problems. The less bacteria in your mouth, the less likely it’ll be that they’ll get into your bloodstream. Keep that blood flowing strong to your ears and brain!

Beyond Bacteria: TMJ, Wisdom Teeth, and Hearing Loss

In addition to bacteria, other oral health problems, such as TMJ and infected wisdom teeth, may end up causing hearing problems or hearing loss. Let’s start with TMJ before moving on to wisdom teeth, shall we?

  • TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint disorder (it’s also referred to as TMD). This is a painful condition that should be treated. Basically, the temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When it becomes inflamed, talking and chewing may hurt, but TMJ might even cause hearing problems. For example, you might notice that your ears seem clogged or that your hearing is muffled. How annoying! Or you might notice that you’ve developed tinnitus (a.k.a. ringing in the ears).  

How is this possible? Well, there seems to be a connection between this joint and the middle ear. Experts believe that, if the joint’s disc shifts out of alignment, the nerves and Eustachian tube may feel more pressure than they should, and the Eustachian tube may become clogged as a result. Beyond that, TMJ might also lead to inflammation that blocks the Eustachian tube, causing hearing problems.

Good news, though: if you work with your dentist to resolve the TMJ, you might also regain the hearing that was lost. So, if you have symptoms of TMJ, don’t hesitate to see a pro to get relief ASAP.  

  • What about wisdom teeth and hearing loss? Well, it’s pretty simple: if your wisdom teeth are impacted, you might be a greater risk of them becoming infected. And, when an infection develops, inflammation can follow, as can problems with hearing clearly.

As with TMJ, getting your infected wisdom teeth taken care of may help you regain any hearing that you lost as a result of inflammation. Your dentist can easily take x-rays to check the status of your wisdom teeth. If impacted or infected, an extraction might be necessary.

Maintaining Your Dental Health and Hearing Starts with You!

If you’re like most people, learning about the connection between tooth decay and hearing loss might be surprising. But, now that you know about it, you can take action to help prevent it.

It all begins at home with your daily oral hygiene routine. The simple act of brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using a mouthwash to kill even more harmful bacteria can make a big difference in keeping those gums and pearly whites clean and strong. Stick to this routine and your dentist is sure to be impressed when he or she checks your teeth at your next appointment!

Professional Dental Care Is Also Necessary

Speaking of appointments with your dentist, it’s a great idea to book them at least once or twice a year, or more often if your dentist recommends it. Professional cleanings are also an integral component to keeping bacteria levels in your mouth to a minimum. Hygienists can provide a deeper clean than you can get at home, and they know how to get rid of any plaque and tartar that you missed.

Worried about being able to afford regular dental checkups and cleanings? Have no fear! With the right dental insurance, like a plan from Spirit that will cover everything from three cleanings per year to major services when you need them, you won’t have to break the bank to maintain your oral health. Saving money on dental care costs has never been so simple!   

Don’t Let Oral Problems Lead to Hearing Loss!

Isn’t it amazing how much the health of your mouth can affect the health of your entire body? From tooth decay and gum disease, to impacted wisdom teeth and TMJ, there are a variety of oral problems that may impact your ability to hear things clearly. But you can rest easy, knowing that these are all problems that could be resolved with the help of a smart hygiene routine that includes trips to your dentist.

Sources:

Toothache Symptoms and Remedies
Dental News Review – 2018