July 10, 2012

Hearing Loss Reversed by Teeth

When a patient is totally deaf in just one ear (normal hearing on the other side), there are only a few options to help.

  • BAHA - Bone Anchored Hearing Aid
  • CROS Hearing Aid - Stands for Contralateral Routing Of Signals.
With BAHA, it does require surgery given the hearing aid is literally mounted on a post that is directly drilled into the skull on the deaf ear side. Total cost about $10,000.

With CROS, two hearing aids are required; one on the deaf hear which picks up sound, and another on the good ear where the sound is transmitted to. Total cost about $2,500.

Well, for many folks, having surgery is not palatable and wearing two hearing aids when one ear is perfectly good is also not acceptable.

There's now a third option called SoundBite (cost about $6,800).

With SoundBite, a hearing aid is placed in the deaf ear to pick up sound which is than wirelessly transmitted to a mini-retainer like device placed around the back molars. This special retainer vibrates the teeth which in turn vibrates the skull which sends sound waves to the good ear allowing a patient to hear.

And preliminary results show that patients like it the best among the three options.

However, nothing is all good...

The disadvantage with the SoundBite is battery life. The ear piece battery only lasts about 12-15 hours and the teeth retainer piece about 8 hours. Also, the teeth retainer needs to be fitted by a dentist.

Also, not everybody is a candidate for SoundBite. In order to quality, a patient must have:

1) Good teeth and gums
2) Deaf in only one side with normal hearing on the other. A comprehensive hearing test is required obviously.

Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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