Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2018 September, 246(1)

Unilateral Chewing as a Risk Factor for Hearing Loss: Association between Chewing Habits and Hearing Acuity

YE-RAN LEE,1 JUN-SEON CHOI1,2 and HEE-EUN KIM1,2

1Department of Health Science, Gachon University Graduate School, Incheon, Republic of Korea
2Department of Dental Hygiene, College of Health Science, Gachon University, Incheon, Republic of Korea

Hearing loss is a common disease in older adults. In order to lower the prevalence of hearing loss, it is important to identify its risk factors. Although some studies have found a relationship between dental status and hearing acuity, few studies have investigated the relationship between unilateral chewing and hearing acuity. This study aimed to assess the effects of unilateral chewing on hearing acuity, with a focus on the risk of hearing loss. Eighty-one participants (aged 51-87 years) were included in the present study. Their chewing habits were determined by visual inspection. The participants were divided into two groups: the Unilateral Chewing Group (UCG; n = 43) and the Bilateral Chewing Group (BCG; n = 38). The preferred chewing side was identified for the UCG. Hearing acuity was determined using pure tone audiometry in a noise-free chamber, conducted at frequencies of 500, 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 Hz. Hearing loss was defined as a lower hearing threshold greater than 50 dB in either ear at any frequency. Mean hearing thresholds at frequencies of 2,000 and 4,000 Hz were significantly higher, by 5.12 and 15.75 dB, respectively, for the UCG compared to the BCG (P < 0.05). The UCG had a 3.78-fold higher likelihood of suffering from hearing loss (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.81-7.88). The results suggest that bilateral chewing could be beneficial for preventing hearing loss. This study may provide evidence to support clinical interventions aimed at reducing the risk of hearing loss in patients with unilateral chewing habits.

Key words —— auditory threshold; bilateral chewing; hearing loss; mastication; unilateral chewing

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Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2018, 246, 45-50

Correspondence: Hee-Eun Kim, Department of Dental Hygiene, College of Health Science, Gachon University, 191 Hambangmoe-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon 21936, Republic of Korea.

e-mail: hekim@gachon.ac.kr