Few people in Charleston give much thought to their hearing while brushing their teeth, but they might be tempted to break out the floss more often given the connection between oral health and hearing loss.
The Link Between Hearing & Oral Hygiene
An attractive smile isn’t just appealing to others – it can help keep you healthy. Good oral hygiene, it turns out, has far-reaching effects on other areas of your health, including your hearing.
An understanding of the hearing process will help you see how the two are connected. Hearing begins when your outer ear collects sound waves and funnels them through the ear canal and eardrum to the middle ear, where vibrations from these signals stimulate a trio of tiny bones known as the ossicles.
These vibrations eventually make their way to the cochlea of the inner ear, where they are converted into electrical impulses that are sent to the brain, where they are interpreted as sound.
Any disruption in this process can cause a hearing problem. Damaged nerve cells, infections and disease can all lead to long-term complications.
Poor oral hygiene can negatively affect hearing for this very reason. Harmful bacteria building up around the teeth and gums can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout your body, causing inflammation that prevents blood from flowing normally and increasing your chance of developing a dangerous blood clot. Bacteria may even reach your brain. The hair cells in the cochlea responsible for hearing depend on a healthy flow of blood, so dental issues such as periodontal disease, infection and abscesses can end up causing permanent hearing damage if left untreated.
Good Dental Hygiene Tips
Practicing good dental hygiene will go a long way toward preventing complications such as hearing loss. Listen to your dentist when they tell you how important it is to take care of your teeth and gums! That means doing the following:
- Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day; after meals is best. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and make sure to brush for a minimum of two minutes. Make sure you purchase a brush that is the right size for your mouth and replace it every three to four months.
- Floss regularly. Floss at least once a day using at least 18” of floss. Wrap a new section around each tooth for maximum effectiveness.
- Visit the dentist. You should schedule a dental cleaning and evaluation every six months to ensure good oral health and treat any issues as they arise.
Got more questions about hearing loss and related medical conditions? Your Charleston audiologist is an excellent resource!