You get the reminder call for your semi-annual dental appointment and what do you do? Rush to the drugstore to buy floss with the naivety that flossing for a few days will trick the dentist into not giving you a lecture about the importance of your dental care. I have good news for you – soon you’ll have more than just your dentist relaying the importance of good oral hygiene. Who, you may be asking yourself. None other than your friendly neighborhood Cedar Park hearing specialist.
The Importance of a Healthy Mouth
Surprised to hear that keeping your mouth healthy may help your hearing? You shouldn’t be.
Your mouth is full of bacteria – some is good and some is bad. When you get an infection in your mouth (such as thrush, gingivitis or a canker sore), the harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream. It can then easily travel through your bloodstream from your mouth to your ears and brain. This can lead to inflammation and narrowing of the blood vessels in your ears.
How You Hear
Your brain and ears work together to experience sound.
The ear consists of three sections: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Each plays an important role in hearing.
The outer ear is called the auricle or pinna. It is the external portion visible to others and is responsible for collecting sound waves and funneling them into the ear canal. There, they are amplified and sent to the tympanic membrane (eardrum), causing it to vibrate.
The middle ear consists of the auditory canal and tympanic membrane. When the eardrum vibrates, it stimulates movement of the ossicles, a trio of tiny bones comprised of the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and stapes (stirrup). The stapes attaches to the oval window, which connects the middle and inner ears.
The inner ear contains the cochlea, a fluid-filled structure where vibrations transmitted from the eardrum cause hair cells called stereocilia to move. This movement is converted to electrical impulses that traverse the auditory nerve to the brain. There, they are interpreted as sound and the hearing process is complete.
How Your Hearing Can Be Damaged
The stereocilia hair cells can be damaged by trauma to the head, exposure to loud noise and even poor blood circulation. Once they are damaged, they do not heal. This is what causes permanent hearing loss. Inflammation stemming from bacteria in your mouth can speed up this process.
There is good news! There are simple steps you can take to help preserve your hearing. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing every night and seeing your dentist for check-ups twice a year can help prevent dental issues like infections.
Wearing hearing protection and visiting your Cedar Park hearing specialist for regular hearing exams can also protect your hearing. Contact your Cedar Park hearing specialist today to get started.