No matter how often you brush your teeth every day, most of us have visited the dentist for a teeth cleaning at some point in our life only to be told that we should be doing much more to protect our oral health.
Poor oral health can cause infections, tooth decay, gum disease and much more, but did you know it can also accelerate hearing loss?
How does the hearing process work?
Before we get into more detail about the link between oral health and hearing loss, let’s first take a quick look at how the hearing process works.
There are three main components to your ear - the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.
When your outer ear catches sound waves it directs them into the ear canal, to the middle ear where the sounds cause your eardrum to vibrate. Once the eardrum begins to vibrate, it causes the ossicles (three tiny bones) to move in the middle ear which then pass on the vibrations to the cochlea in the innermost part of the ear.
Once at the cochlea, the vibrations stimulate fluid and tiny hair cells (about 17,000 in each ear) which create electrical impulse signals that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain. Your brain then interprets them and works out exactly what you are hearing.
The important part to remember here is that if any of these components fail to correctly do their job, you can experience hearing loss issues. Common complications include damaged hair cells, perforated or ruptured eardrums, ear infections, and otosclerosis.
You can read more about how hearing works in our recent blog - How Your Ears Work: Understanding the Anatomy of Your Ears and the Causes of Hearing Loss.
So, what’s the link between oral health and hearing loss?
When you neglect your oral health, harmful bacteria begins to breed around your teeth and gums which then causes dental issues such as periodontal disease, dental infections and abscesses.
If left untreated, this bacteria will enter your bloodstream, causing the inflammation and narrowing of arteries and blood vessels.
Remember those hair cells in your cochlea that we talked about above? They require healthy blood circulation and can become damaged or even permanently destroyed if blood circulation is low.
This can result in both short-term or irreversible hearing loss, as well as the acceleration of existing hearing difficulties.
Building a routine for oral hygiene
Building a routine that protects your oral health isn’t difficult, all you need to do is follow three simple steps and you’ll not only improve the health of your mouth but also your ears:
- Brush - You should brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day for at least two minutes each time. This will prevent bacteria and debris from developing into plaque on your teeth and your gums. Without brushing, your mouth will become a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Floss - Flossing is the best way to remove food debris from in between your teeth, to help you prevent cavativites and other complications. It’s recommended you floss your entire mouth twice a day either before or after you brush your teeth.
- Visit the dentist - Most people avoid visiting the dentist because, let’s be honest, it’s not always a fun experience. However, it’s recommended that you visit at least every six months for a dental cleaning to ensure you catch oral health issues before they become serious.
Seek advice early on
If you believe you, or someone you know, may be experiencing the early signs of hearing loss, it's important to seek professional advice as soon as possible. Hearing loss can significantly affect your physical and mental wellbeing if left treated.
A hearing treatment expert in Canada, such as York Hearing Clinic, will be able to identify the potential causes of your symptoms and create a tailor-made solution that significantly improves your quality of life.
Want to book an appointment? Contact our team of experts today and find out how we can help you make the most out of your hearing.