Updated Jan. 2023
Dental health is an important part of overall health and poor dental health can lead to issues with other parts of the body, including the heart and the ears. Can bad teeth affect your ears? It’s true; taking care of your chompers may also help you maintain your hearing!
In this article, we will look at the various ways dental health and hearing are connected.
Yes, there are a number of ways that problems with your teeth can also lead to issues with your hearing. Let's take a look at four common ways bad teeth can cause ear problems.
Can a tooth infection affect your ears? The easy answer is yes. The nasty bacteria that 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?
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 increasing 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!
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.
Can wisdom teeth cause muffled hearing? What about wisdom teeth and ear pain? Well, it’s pretty simple: if your wisdom teeth are impacted, you might be at a greater risk of them becoming infected. And, when an infection develops, inflammation can follow, along with problems hearing clearly.
As with TMJ, getting your infected wisdom teeth taken care of may help you regain any hearing that you lose as a result of inflammation. Your dentist can easily take x-rays to check the status of your wisdom teeth. If they are impacted or infected, an extraction might be necessary.
Many people report having muffled hearing after a tooth extraction. The reason for this is the extraction process can cause some inflammation in the area, which can cause ear pain or temporarily cause muffled hearing. The hearing loss will fade after the inflammation subsides.
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 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!
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 of 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 from Spirit, like a dental cleaning service insurance plan that will cover everything from three cleanings per year to major services dental insurance, you won’t have to break the bank to maintain your oral health. Saving money on dental care costs has never been so simple! And we offer dental insurance with no waiting period, so as soon as you get approved, you're covered! Get a quote from Spirit Dental & Vision today.