Did you know there's a connection between the health of your teeth, gums and your hearing? Say what? You heard it right. A healthy mouth is not only good for your teeth, but it can also be good for your hearing.
Good oral health is linked to good overall health. Here are four mouth-healthy habits that can help protect your hearing and prevent disease.
- Brush 2x a day
- Poor dental hygiene increases the chance of dementia by 30% to 40%. People who brush their teeth less than once a day are up to 65% more likely to develop dementia than those who brush every day.
- People with hearing loss have up to a 5x higher risk of dementia than people without hearing loss.
Scientists are researching, but believe harmful bacteria from gums may enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain, causing inflammation. Dental infections may cause narrowing of arteries, including tiny blood vessels needed for hearing. That affects blood flow in the brain, which could interfere with the way the brain receives sound signals. When there is decline in sound stimuli and sensory deprivation, hearing loss may lead to structural and functional changes in the brain. You can read more about that here.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Brush gently for about two minutes twice a day to remove plaque, bad bacteria and tartar.
- Floss daily
- 91% of people with heart disease also have gum disease.
- About 80% of people with disease also have hearing loss.
Researchers continue to study, but believe harmful bacteria could travel from gums, through the bloodstream, to the heart, contributing to clots or plaque build-up in arteries. Also, chronic gum inflammation may cause inflammation of blood vessels, which allows less blood to travel between the heart and the rest of the body. Low blood supply can damage blood vessels in the inner ear, making sounds difficult to receive.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If your gums bleed when flossing, your gums a "re likely inflamed. Stick to daily flossing and that will break up the harmful bacteria that live between your teeth and gums and it will reduce gum inflammation. Floss picks are easy alternatives to traditional floss.
- Eat healthy and breathe heavily every day
- 22% of diabetics have gum disease, which is the most common dental health condition for diabetics.
- Hearing loss is 2x as common in people with diabetes and 30% higher in people with pre-diabetes than it is in those without the disease.
Gum inflammation, bleeding and infections seem to impair the body's ability to handle blood sugar. High blood sugar causes tiny blood vessels in the inner ear to break, making it difficult to receive sounds.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: If you live a healthy lifestyle, you're less likely to develop conditions that might lead to hearing loss and diseases. Monitor your sugar intake and exercise regularly. Even 30 minutes a day of moderately intense activities like walking, gardening and housework provide overall health benefits. If you have diabetes, treating gum disease can help improve blood sugar issues.
- Talk to health professionals regularly
- 2x a year is ideal for dental checkups.
- About 1 time a year is recommended for hearing check-ins.
Have conversations with your dentist and hearing health care professional and let them know about your challenges as well as your full family history. If you're experiencing sudden hearing loss and mouth pain, talk to a dentist right away. They can identify if your hearing loss or tinnitus is caused by infected wisdom teeth or TMJ inflammation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Routine trips to the dentist twice a year give them the opportunity to check not only your teeth and gums, but also for signs of other serious health conditions.
Protecting your oral and hearing health can have huge benefits not only to your smile and hearing, but also to your overall health. Staying on top of your health may lead to a longer, more enjoyable life.
Your benefits package may offer access to a wide range of programs to support your overall health and well-being. One of those exciting, new benefits is a member discount on hearing screenings, hearing aids and care through our partnership with Amplifon Hearing Health Care.
Amplifon believes that everyone deserves access to high-quality hearing health care. As the world’s largest distributor of hearing aids and services, they're committed to making it more affordable for everyone. The best news? This is already included as part of your dental benefits. We hope this makes it easier for you or someone you love to improve their hearing. Want to see if your insurance covers hearing testing or hearing aids? Check your benefits.
Amplifon believes that everyone deserves access to high-quality hearing health care that helps you on your journey to overall health. Take the first step today.