Exposure to high-frequency equipment noise is unavoidable for dental professionals. Over a period of years, exposure can gradually damage the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to tinnitus and hearing loss. A number of published studies show poorer hearing in dental professionals compared to medical professionals who are not exposed to noise. The American Dental Association recommends the use of hearing protection during usage of dental equipment.
Advanced circuitry in DI-15 electronic earplugs automatically changes output levels as sound input levels change, which means that the earplugs automatically lower sound to safer levels when environmental sound becomes unsafe. The earplugs then provide natural hearing when sound levels are safe, so dental professionals don’t need to remove the earplugs to hear clearly.
“One of our first questions was how can we reduce the chronic annoyance of the dental handpiece, suction, and laboratory sounds, without blocking our communication with patients and staff? We sought to provide a solution to this serious, yet unaddressed occupational hazard. “We have too many colleagues who have acquired hearing loss over years of practice and wanted to prevent that from happening,” said Sam Shamardi, DMD, periodontist and founder of Dental Innovations.
The DI-15 electronic earplugs were developed for Dental Innovations by Etymotic Research Inc., recipient of the Safe-in-Sound award for pioneering technical expertise and innovation in hearing loss prevention, awarded jointly by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the National Hearing Conservation Association. Dental Innovations is a Boston, Massachusetts-based company focusing on issues confronted by dentists during daily practice.
Powered by small batteries, the DI-15 earplugs are “active” earplugs, which means that they restore soft sounds that are lost when the eartips seal the ear canals and that they automatically activate and attenuate when protection is needed. These high-fidelity earplugs contain high-definition transducers: balanced-armature drivers, high- sensitivity microphones, and advanced adaptive compression signal processing. The bandwidth (40 Hz – 16 kHz) is unprecedented, and the sound quality exceeds that of all known electronic earplugs and all modern digital hearing devices.