Soundbite device was approved by the FDA for single-sided deafness as well as conductive hearing loss in 2010. Unlike the balance system, there are no collaterals for the hearing apparatus. When polled, patients usually rank single-sided deafness as the most disabling side effect of acoustic neuromas. Interestingly even in patients after surgery who may have been affected by facial nerve paralysis or balance issues, many continue to be more bothered by the hearing loss than the other symptoms. There are several problems with single-sided deafness. One, we require two functioning ears to detect the source of a sound. Human brain uses time and intensity of sound heard in the two ears to detect where sounds come from. Second, because of the head shadow effect, when the source of sound is close to the deaf ear we might not clearly hear the sound. For example when someone is deaf in the right ear he would have a very difficult time conversing while being the driver in the car since the only functioning ear is away from the source of sound. Obviously the reverse is true in British-style cars. Third, hearing in loud noisy environment becomes much more difficult since two ears filter out noise better than one ear.
There are numerous devices that would allow you to hear when people talk to your deaf ear. Unfortunately none can completely replicate having two functioning ears since they simply send the sound from the deaf side to the good ear and not restore hearing to the deaf ear. This means that you would still have problem with detecting where a sound is coming from but would have a much easier time when someone is talking to the deaf ear.
The Soundbite device transmits the sound from the teeth into the inner ear using bone conduction through the skull. You would wear a hearing aid microphone/sound processor behind the deaf ear and an in-the-mouth device on the last two molars on either side of the upper jaw. The in-the-mouth device has to be custom made for your teeth so you would need to be seen by our oral surgeon for dental examination and creation of a mold of your upper teeth. You can be tested with this device in our audiology practice.
|ITM hearing device inserted in-the-mouth||Custom fits around the upper back teeth||ITM is nearly invisible when worn|
|BTE Microphone Unit when worn||Behind the ear (BTE) microphone||In-the-mouth (ITM) device|