Otoplastics for hearing aids
The purpose of otoplastics
Nowadays, hearing aids are not just small and lightweight, but they are also highly sophisticated. In order to get the best performance out of your hearing aids, we recommend an otoplastic (or earmold). The use of an otoplastic is dependent on your hearing aid model and the severity of your hearing loss.
Otoplastics form a direct link between the hearing aid and your ear. The earmolds on behind-the-ear (BTE) devices are attached to the sound tube. Earmolds on in-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are connected to the device’s housing and inserted directly into the ear. Otoplastics protect your hearing aids and sit securely within the auricle. Moreover, they can facilitate the amplification effect through the hearing aids in the case of severe hearing loss.
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Hearing loss is as unique as a fingerprint. Similarly, every individual’s inner ear and ear canal are different. In order for the otoplastic to fit securely in the ear, a hearing care professional has to create a mold based on an impression of the inner ear.
Therefore, an audiologist or licensed hearing specialist customizes each otoplastic for every individual hearing aid user. The shape of the otoplastic is identical to the ear impression. The audiologist takes the impression by hand. This quick and easy procedure involves inserting a soft casting compound (e.g. silicone) into the part of the hearing canal that is relevant for the otoplastic. After a minute or two, the compound will harden within the hearing canal without making direct contact with the sensitive inner skin of the ear.
The process of taking an impression is painless and safe. Only an audiologist or licensed hearing care professional should take ear impressions. When done correctly, the impression will accurately reflect the patient’s ear canal and keep its form. Subsequently, the actual otoplastic is generally crafted in a lab that is specifically equipped for this task.
Comfort as an important feature
Depending on the condition and sensitivity of the ear canal, various synthetic materials, like acrylic or silicone, can be used to produce otoplastics. These materials can differ in terms of their properties and degree of hardness. Normally, the wearer of the otoplastic is going to keep it in the ear canal for several hours a day. Thus, the object inside the ear should not be uncomfortable or feel like something is stuck in the ear. The use of both hard and soft materials for the otoplastic will help to achieve this goal.
Should the wearer of hearing aids be allergic to commonly used synthetic materials, the audiologist can turn the otoplastics’ material to a glassy substance or coat them with gold in order to prevent direct contact of synthetics with the ear canal. Allergen-free synthetics, like neutacryl and thermotec, are currently not available yet. A precise fit, skin tolerance, and durability are the main characteristics of an otoplastic that works and feels great.
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Otoplastics as headsets for musicians
Otoplastics are not just for hearing aid systems. Other possible uses of otoplastics include individual hearing protection or special headsets that, in addition to hearing protection, transmit sound to the user’s ears. Otoplastics as individual hearing protection usually outperform traditional products like earplugs with regard to wearing comfort and hearing protection. Musicians and other groups that require exceptional speech- and sound-perception are opting for otoplastics. Unlike simple insulating material, otoplastics do not distort the sound and frequency response of music or speech. In spite of sound restrictions, otoplastics transfer sound to the inner ear almost unchanged.
Otoplastic headsets are also popular with television/radio reporters and security personnel who want to hear and understand better, especially in places with loud background noise. The price of otoplastics varies and depends on several factors. Speak to our hearing experts to learn more.