Category: Oral Health

Can you hear your teeth?

What’s that sound? Tinnitus affects around 15% of all Americans.


We’ve written before about the link between your teeth and overall health, as well as all the connections between your mouth and other parts of your head. But what about your ears specifically – Can your oral health affect your hearing? 

Tinnitus is a hearing disorder that affects one in six Americans. Its causes include environmental factors like age, prolonged exposure to loud noise, wax or ear canal obstructions, and other conditions within the ear. Most people report auditory symptoms that sound like ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, or whistling noises. The perceived sounds may be sporadic or occur continuously.


Causes of Tinnitus

According to the American Tinnitus Association, in the vast majority of cases, tinnitus is caused by hearing loss and is a phantom auditory sensation generated by the brain in response to missing acoustic stimulation. However, the association also notes that physical dysfunctions elsewhere in the body can also trigger Tinnitus symptoms. These can include obstructions in the ear, head or neck injury, reactions to medication, and in some cases TMJ dysfunction.


The Jaw-Ear Connection

The Temporomandibular Joint is located just directly in front of the ear. Issues arise when the cartilage between the jawbone and the skull is damaged or degraded. The resulting stress on the tissue around the joint can cause a variety of ear/auditory symptoms, including clicking sounds that occur when chewing, talking, or swallowing.  

According to Otologists, nearly half of all patients who report TMJ symptoms also complain of Tinnitus. If you think you have either of these conditions, talk to us at your next appointment.

MO Bad Grades for the Show-Me State

Missouri Dental Health rankings
Missouri scored poorly in both physical and dental health categories.

A few years ago we told you about our Missouri dental health rankings, which were not great. Unfortunately, our streak of unfavorable ratings has continued.

A recent report published by the United Health Foundation took a look at America’s Health Rankings. Missouri – the 18th-largest state – ranked 43rd out of 52. The study’s main focus was on overall health, including access to physicians, affordability of care, and the prevalence of chronic and/or preventable conditions. We rank in the bottom 20% of states in deaths caused by both cancer and cardiovascular disease. But there were numerous categories that Missouri scored poorly on that were specific to oral care. 

The Show-Me State has the 9th-lowest number of dentists per capita, with just 48.5 per 100,000 residents. And despite our cautionary tales, Missouri has more active smokers –21%– than 40 other states. This last statistic can clearly be linked to our high cancer death rate, but what does the other data say about dental care? 

Behind the Numbers

Some of the individual metrics point to more disturbing trends. There is an increasing lack of access to dental care for Missourians, mirroring statistics in the medical area healthcare industry. Another study by the Commonwealth Fund highlighted the number of Missouri adults who have gone without a dental visit in the past year. That number has increased steadily, outpacing the national average since 2014. The number of adults missing six or more teeth due to decay, infection, or gum disease also increased. Other studies have also shown our state lagging behind nearly all others in adequate dental care for adolescents.   

Not Just About Mouth Health

We will point out (again!) how closely dental health is tied to overall health. Research proves that oral infections and periodontal (gum) disease are more closely associated with:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and congestive heart failure 
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Low birth weight 

Not coincidentally, Missouri scored poor ratings for all these conditions. Maybe it’s time we took a closer look at how overall health may be affecting your dental health and vice versa. If you have questions, just ask us at your next appointment. We can offer tips for making sure you (and your mouth) stay healthy!

Our Mouths: A Global View

How does your dental care compare to the rest of the world?

In honor of World Oral Health Day last week, we’re taking a look at how people in the rest of the world do (or don’t) take care of their teeth.

It’s no real surprise that America leads most of the world in availability of healthcare services. For the rest of the world – 80% of which lives on just $10/day or less – our advanced dental procedures and technology are far out of financial reach.

Global dental statistics also illustrate an economic divide in world oral health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

  • Tooth decay and other oral diseases affect roughly half the world’s population
  • Severe periodontal disease, including tooth loss, is the 11th-most common disease globally. In some Asian-Pacific countries, oral cancer is the among the top three cancers by incidence.

WHO also notes that even developed high-income countries, dental treatment accounts for an average of 5% of total health care expenditures, and 20% of out-of-pocket costs.

Global Problems, Local Impact?

Here in Missouri, mouths aren’t doing that great either. In 2017 we ranked 30thin the nationfor quality of dental health.  According to the American Dental Association, currently one-third of our overall residents have teeth in fair or poor condition. And it’s no surprise that those numbers are drastically skewed by income. One-quarter of low-income households have a “Poor” mouth/teeth rating, as compared to only about 2% among high wage-earners.

But there is one statistic that held steady across all income demographics in the Show-Me State: More than 4 in 5 people believe that the appearance of mouth and teeth affects the ability to interview for a job. This can be an career barrier for the roughly 50% of Missouri’s low-income residents who feel embarrassed, have anxiety, or avoid smiling due to the condition of their teeth.

If you are one of the many who suffer from a lack of mouth confidence, we can help. Doctors Meyer & Johns have a variety of available strategies for damaged or irregular teeth, including corrective, cosmetic, and aesthetic.