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The Link Between Hearing and Dental Issues

Written by

Jeanne Graulich
Jeanne Graulich
Jeanne Graulich, MA, CCC-A is an audiologist on staff to guide your hearing aid journey in a safe and practical way. Jeanne brings over 30 years of experience fitting hearing aids, specializing in fittings with adults. Her passion for improving communication and overall quality of life shines through in every interaction.

There is a strong relationship between hearing and dental issues. One sided ear symptoms such as pain, pressure, inability to clear a clogged ear, reduced hearing, tinnitus (noises in the ear) or vertigo (spinning sensation) may be present due to dental issues.

Bacteria generated in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene can travel in the blood vessels to the inner ear (cochlea). Bacteria can cause inflammation of cerebral blood vessels, possibly narrowing the vessels reducing blood flow to the cochlea. The sharing of bacteria from the mouth and middle ears, resulting in infections in either location, is more prevalent in children in view of the close proximity of the structures and horizontal angle of the Eustachian Tube.

Common oral health problems, like an abscessed tooth, an impacted wisdom tooth or molar, or even a cavity especially in the upper teeth, can result in an earache. Inflammation that develops can result in reduced hearing. Bite misalignment causes stress on the jaw muscles which can result in ear pain. The fifth cranial nerve, the Trigeminal nerve, controls both the muscles in the jaw and middle ear.

The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull. Teeth grinding or jaw clenching with or without temporomandibular joint dysfunction (tmjd) can result in jaw tightness and pain extending to the ear. The temporomandibular joint can become inflamed causing a clogged ear canal or Eustachian tube. . Dislocated joints or worn cartilage disks that cushion the joint may cause pain in the mouth, jaw or ear. Tinnitus can result from tmjd.

Anti-inflammatories or antibiotics are medications prescribed to combat the pain or infection in the ear or mouth. Sometimes these medications can be ototoxic, causing a negative effect on hearing and/or balance. Proper dental hygiene is beneficial to healthy teeth and to prevent related ear complications.