New device allows patients to hear through their teeth

OKLAHOMA CITY – Cutting edge technology is helping Oklahomans with single-sided deafness hear in a unique way.

Doctors at OU Medicine are using a non-surgical solution, which actually sends sound through a person’s teeth.

Experts say the technology is not only convenient but less frightening for some patients.

Doctors at OU Medicine used the new technology on patient Dustin Brown, who lost all hearing in his right ear.

Surgeons had to remove Brown’s cochlear nerve after discovering a tumor.

Rather than have another surgery to help him hear, Brown opted for the Sound Bite Hearing System.

Doctor Betty Tsai, with OU Physicians, said, “It’s an innovative technology that allows people that can’t hear on one side, what we call single-sided deafness, to be able to transmit the sound to their good ear.”

The sound is transmitted through a patient’s teeth.

Brown has a small earpiece, which is essentially a microphone, in his right ear.

It transmits sound to a mouthpiece that has been fitted onto his back teeth, much like a retainer.

The mouth piece transmits sound through his teeth into his good ear, allowing him to hear again on his right side.

Dr. Tsai, said, “Bone is actually a very good conductor for sound. In fact, sound travels more efficiently through bone than it does through air.”

Dustin and his wife say this technology has not only helped him hear again, but it has helped them communicate.

Jennifer Brown, Dustin’s wife, said, “It’s a lot less frustrating now. Before he would have to say, ‘huh’ or ‘what.’ It’s just so much better for us.”

Dustin said, “The most difference I’ve seen is when I’m driving down the road with my wife. I can actually hear what she’s saying now.”

This technology is currently not covered by insurance.

However, it is FDA approved.

The company which developed the technology is hoping insurance will begin covering the Sound Bite Hearing System within the next year.