Healthy teeth make for an attractive smile, but there’s more to having pearly whites than meets the eye. For starters, healthy teeth can protect your body from all sorts of complications, loss of hearing included. While the connection may be obscure, when it is understood that nearly everything that goes inside your body enters from your mouth. Consequently, your mouth has a high chance of being introduced harmful bacteria. Over time such as in the case of gingivitis or periodontitis, bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause a variety of complications inside your body. Unfortunately, one complication is hearing loss.
How Hearing Works
Your outer ear, sometimes referred to as the pinna or auricle, is responsible for collecting sound. It then funnels that sound down into the ear canal, then the ear drum and finally, into the inner ear. This is where you’ll find the sensory organ responsible for hearing and balance. Once the sound reaches that part, it starts to stimulate the stereocilia or a set of hair cells. These then translate the sound into electrical impulses and transmit them to the brain for interpretation via the auditory nerve.
These hair cells are rather sensitive and can be damaged by many things. For instance, sounds that are too loud can destroy these hairs which is why we wear hearing protection in certain environments. However, stereocilia can also suffer harm from poor circulation to the small blood vessels found in the inner ear. Bacteria that is allowed to enter the blood stream from dental problems can build in the inner ear’s blood vessels and slowly deprive stereocilia of blood. Once damaged, the hair cells are no longer able to regenerate. This, in turn, results in loss of hearing. Although our hearing does naturally grow weaker, poor dental health can speed things up and cause extensive damage.
Oral Hygiene and Other Complications
Oral hygiene, or the lack thereof, can also cause other complications, such as dementia, memory loss, and even heart complications. The same narrowing and blocking of arteries due to inflammation that can cause damage to the hair cells can also affect blood flow to the brain. If this happens, the brain may not be able to receive sound signals from the auditory nerve properly. There is also the possibility of the bacteria from the mouth traveling to the brain or heart through the bloodstream.
Periodontitis significantly increase your risk for diabetes. This, along with the increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, also puts you in even more of a risk for hearing loss.
The Good News
Hearing loss that results from bad dental hygiene is extremely preventable. By making a practice of brushing the correct way regularly, you can avoid bacterial build-ups that can migrate to your bloodstream. Even if you are dealing with an early stage of periodontitis, a good dentist can help. The best course of action to take is to react by seeking professional help. At Georgian Dental® we realize that the ability to hear is a precious gift that should never be taken for granted.
Georgian Dental® Orillia: (705)-325-1765
Georgian Dental® Barrie: (705)-739-6725
link to article about hearing loss and denture wearers