You’ve probably heard it all before, how important it is to care for your teeth. But did you know that oral health is now being linked to the health of other systems within the body? That’s right! The health of your mouth may also be an indicator of heart health, joint health and even hearing health.
The Oral Health Link
While more research is still needed, experts believe that poor oral health raises the level of inflammation, not just in the mouth, but throughout the body. Inflamed gums? You may also have inflamed joints or thickening arteries. As bacteria builds in your mouth and begins traveling throughout the body, your immune system goes into action raising the level of inflammation. This type of inflammation can then affect blood flow, potentially impacting hearing.
Hearing loss and blood flow may not be the first connection you think of, but science has uncovered a strong link between the two. That’s because the delicate structure of the inner ear relies on ample blood flow to maintain health and function. Within the inner ear are tiny hair-like structures. Without proper blood flow, these structures, vital for picking up sound vibrations and translating them into sounds for the brain, can become damaged. When blood flow to these inner workings of the ear is restricted, hearing loss can be the result.
How To Protect Your Hearing
With growing evidence surrounding the impact of oral health on other systems within the body, including hearing, proper care and oral hygiene is a smart choice. Here are five ways to maintain the health of your mouth:
- See your dentist every six months for routine care such as cleanings and a checkup. At these appointments, your dentist can assess your oral health looking for inflammation and cavities while removing plaque that can build up and increase inflammation.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for several minutes at a time. Not only can this help remove bacteria-harboring food particles but also keep bacteria in the mouth at a safe level.
- Floss teeth daily. As you floss around each tooth to remove trapped food, move to a clean section of floss to prevent the transfer of food and bacteria from one tooth to the next. If gums seem tender or bleed, inflammation could be higher, and it may be time to see your dentist.
- Change your toothbrush several times per year. Don’t rely on just the freebies your dentist provides, purchase a sturdy new brush in between checkups too. As brush bristles wear down, they are less effective at reaching between and behind teeth where food and bacteria hide.
- Drink plenty of water. Not only can water help to wash away food particles, but it is also an essential ingredient for saliva. Saliva can help to keep bacteria at bay, and when there isn’t enough, they tend to flourish.
Research is beginning to underscore just how important oral health is, and not just for a nice smile. Caring for your teeth and gums to reduce inflammation throughout your body could be your first line of defense against hearing loss.
If you think you may have hearing loss, we can help. Our comprehensive hearing evaluations can detect the level of hearing loss, help you uncover any underlying causes and guide you towards the best solutions to manage hearing loss. Contact us today to learn more.