Oral Health and Hearing Loss

Neglecting to floss and brush can damage the hair cells needed for hearing. Some hearing loss is natural, but poor dental health habits can accelerate the process.

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

The health of the mouth affects the health of the entire body. I’ve written about how flossing daily and brushing twice a day can protect against heart disease and dementia. Good oral health habits will also protect your sense of hearing.

How Are Oral Health and Hearing Connected?

When you neglect to floss and brush, harmful bacteria develops in your mouth and can enter your bloodstream, causing inflammation and narrowing of arteries and blood vessels – including those essential for hearing.

Good hearing depends on hair cells (stereocilia) that translate electrical impulses and transmits them to the brain for interpretation via the auditory nerve.

One of the ways these hair cells can be damaged is by inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels in the inner ear. This damage is irreversible, meaning the hearing loss is permanent. Some of this hearing loss is natural as we age, but poor dental health habits can accelerate the process.

Bacteria from dental infections and periodontal disease can also lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Make sure you’re in the habit of flossing daily and brushing properly at least twice daily. Having professional teeth cleaning is an essential part of good oral hygiene as well.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Learn More: The Mouth-Body Connection: 6 Ways Oral Health Impacts Overall Health