Two Ways Dental Issues Can Causing Hearing Problems

Hearing loss can be caused by a number of things, but one surprising source of hearing problems are oral health issues. Here are two ways dental issues can destroy your ears' most important function and what you can do to prevent these problems.

Periodontal Disease Can Damage Ears

Chronic periodontal disease does more than damage teeth and gums—often resulting in tooth loss—it can also lead to hearing loss if it's not treated properly. The bacteria at the root of the infection can and does travel to other parts of the body via the bloodstream where it begins attacking other critical organs, such as the heart and brain.

Because of their proximity to the mouth and the open connected nature of the sinus cavity, the ears are particularly vulnerable to invasion from harmful oral bacteria. In addition to causing an increased susceptibility to ear infections, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also damage the nerves and other structures in the ears, leading to hearing loss. In fact, a study conducted in Taiwan involving over 9,700 patients found chronic periodontal disease associated with sensorineural hearing loss.

To protect your ears and other parts of your body, get regular checkups with a dentist and treat oral infections in a timely manner. Periodontal disease may be caused or acerbated by certain medical conditions such as diabetes, so it's also important to get those issues under control as much as possible to minimize the incidence of infections.

Medication May Cause Impairment

Another thing that can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss is medication. Some drugs used to treat periodontal disease or the associated symptoms can cause harmful side effects, such as inflammation and tinnitus. For instance, over the counter pain killers—such as aspirin and ibuprofen—has been shown to cause hearing loss when taken two or more times per week. Researchers think this may be because these pain killers reduce blood flow to the hearing mechanisms in the ear, reducing their ability to process sound.

In many cases, the loss of hearing is temporary and patients' ears return to normal soon after they stop taking the medication. Sometimes, though, the loss is permanent. To avoid medication-related hearing loss, be sure you fully understand the side effects of the drugs you're taking and only use it as directed by the packaging or the doctor who prescribed it.

For more information about dental-related hearing loss or help dealing with your oral care needs, contact a dentist.