Since I have been specializing in treating patients with dizziness and vertigo, I have observed an interesting connection between vertigo and teeth. I have seen multiple patients who experienced vertigo symptoms during daily dental hygiene, at the dentist office, and after oral surgery.

Below is some interesting information that I have learned about the connection between vertigo and teeth.

Dental Hygiene Can Cause Vertigo for Some People

Recently I have seen two new patients who told me that dental hygiene was causing their vertigo symptoms.

One patient was feeling a whirling sensation when she used her electric toothbrush.

It turned out that she had BPPV in two out of three canals in her left inner ear. We were able to resolve it within two treatment sessions.

Now she can use her electric toothbrush without getting vertigo.

The second patient was feeling vertigo when he flossed and brushed his upper back molars. Once we treated him for BPPV in two out of three canals in one ear, his symptoms with dental hygiene were resolved.

I was thinking about this symptom presentation and I realized it is because the upper teeth are very close to the location of the vestibular system within the bones of the skull.

So if a BPPV crystal is loose, then any dental hygiene could theoretically cause the crystals to create a false sense of motion. Although this is not necessarily a common complaint from patients with BPPV, it has served as a clue to solve some mystery cases of atypical vertigo.

Dentist Visits Can Cause Vertigo

The other link that I have observed with vertigo and teeth is that vertigo can occur during or after a visit to the dentist.

Vertigo that occurs when the head is reclined back in the dentist’s chair could be from the neck circulation – or blood flow to the brain, or it could indicate BPPV.

One way to tell the difference is to place a pillow or neck roll behind the head when reclined in the dentist’s chair.

  • Symptoms that resolve with a pillow or neck roll are likely due to neck problems, or blood flow or circulation issues in the neck that affect the brain.
  • Symptoms that persist with the head and neck supported in the reclined position are possibly a positional vertigo from the inner ear, of which BPPV is the most common.

Other Dental Vertigo Connections

Other vertigo cases I have observed that occur immediately following a root canal or other dental surgery can be caused by an activation of the oral herpes virus – or cold sore virus in the mouth area – which can travel along the vestibular nerve to cause a case of “vestibular neuritis.”

Symptoms of vestibular neuritis may not start right away during the dental procedure. Symptoms may start within days of oral surgery, are often quite severe, last for days to weeks and sometimes cause permanent damage to the inner ear.

For that reason, I often recommend for patients with repeated breakouts of cold sores around their mouth to request a prescription from their doctor or dentist for antiviral medications prior to oral surgery. Common antiviral medications include Valacyclovir or Acyclovir.

To learn more about the five most common causes of dental vertigo that I have observed in my clinical practice, click here.



This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.

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