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What is a Standard Ear Impression and Why Do I Need One?

Learn what's involved in getting a standard silicone ear impression, and how it differs from 3D digital laser ear impressions.



What is a standard ear impression and why do I need one? That's today's topic on Ask The Hearing Doctors. 


Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors, and I'm joined today by Dr. Ana Anzola, Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's highest rated audiology practice with over 1,500 5-star reviews. Ana, Wendy, as always great to see you both. So ear impressions, standard ear impression versus the 3D ear impression... Um, I'm going to get a little taste of that a little later on, uh, as we know, but what exactly is the ear impression for?


Yeah, it's a blueprint of your ear. Uh, so we can take this, send it to the manufacturer and they will develop an accurate ear mold, a hearing aid, a custom made, um, hearing protection device. So anything that fits in the ear, we need one. 


Okay. And when we're doing this standard ear impression versus the 3D, now it sounds to me if I'm wrong, if I'm not mistaken, this standard is kind of maybe older school and the 3D is the new way of doing it. 


Definitely the state-of-the-art technology, the 3D. So we've all been trained, the 3D, um, the, you know, we've all been trained to develop techniques. We've been trained on how to take an accurate ear mold impression, but now we have the 3D scanners and, um, they're, they're very accurate and we love to use them. Um, but sometimes it's not appropriate to use the 3D scanner, um, versus the standard. 


Now we've talked in the past when a new patient comes to the practice, you've got to find out a lot about them because there are so many different things, as we've learned in previous podcasts that are related to hearing loss. So what are, what are the types of questions that you're asking? What are you looking for before you even go down the road of the hearing or the ear impression? 


Sure. I mean, we need to look inside the ear for sure. Um, and that gives us, gives us a really good idea of whether or not today's a good day to even be taking an ear impression. We go through a very thorough case history, is we're really, we dive into, you know, are you taking blood thinners? Um, am I going to put you at risk by doing this procedure - very important. Yeah. And you know, like Ana said, if there's, there are certain indications, like diabetes, blood thinners, if there's any cuts or sores in the ear, then that's definitely going to change how we're going to proceed at that point. 


Okay. Now let's talk about some of the materials that we'll be using on me. Um, as we get started, let's start with the, uh, with the standard ear impression. What are, what are you, what are you doing there? 


So again, we take a blueprint of your ear by use in something that, um, more like, it looks like a, not a syringe, but uh, more like a gun, like an impression gun. Um, and, uh, we take our time and we explain the process where we put a cotton block down the ear cavity, and we fill it up with this material and within five minutes is completely done. 


Okay. And then versus the 3D, is that, is that any less invasive or...


It is, yes. So there's nothing that we're actually leaving in your ear for a while. So what it is is, um, kind of, it looks similar, you know, you have a gun portion, but then the end of the gun is a rubber piece that fills up with fluid and it has a camera in it. So that's the part that goes in your ear and it takes pictures and then that comes right out. And again, we take our time, we explain the whole process. 


Okay, well maybe this is a good time for me to go get my ears filled with something. All right, Ana. So I'm getting the standard ear impression. Yes, sir. 


Yes we are. So let me take a quick look inside your ears. Okay. And you can see it up on the screen. That looks fabulous. It's a very healthy ear cavity, no obstruction. So free for me to take a good ear mold impression. Okay. Does this hurt? 


No, sir. Are you nervous? No, no, don't be don't. Don't be, we just use a little bit of silicone. Okay. This is a little canola, allows the material to come through, be funneled right into the ear cavity. We will first start with use in some sort of either a film or cotton dam it's placed right about halfway through the year cavity. Um, I like the cotton. It's nicer and what's the purpose of this, just so that material doesn't go beyond a certain point because at your mold impression, uh, doesn't need to be the whole canal. Just halfway. I tend to just give it an extra little not there and this again, doesn't hurt. Just may tickle. Is that okay? Yes. Didn't hardly know that. 


And the light it's very important. So I'm going to turn my light on and using this light to place it right about there. 


So you, this is so you'll know exactly where it's going. 


Yes. Okay. I need to ensure that I have proper placement. Okay. Okay. So good. So far so good. Okay. Very good, sir. Now, um, I have a dental bite for you. So if you wanna grab a tissue and grab that, I'll, I'll, I'll show you, can you grab that for me and then just place it right in between your teeth? Um, the other way, other way, and this is it'll go right in between the teeth with that. Yep. Like that, the purpose of that is so that we take a good, accurate ear mold impression. Okay. So when you're talking, when you're yawning, uh, things like that, and you're wearing, um, whether is here in protection or the actual hearing device is not going to move or shift in different ways that we don't want to. Okay. Okay. 


I do need you to speak, uh, you will have that about five minutes. So I'm gonna ask you to turn this way a bit and here we go. So it's going to feel little cold, but it shouldn't hurt. It will harden in five minutes and that will take an accurate impression of your ear cavity and contours for the most optimal ear impression. Good. Yep. I think it's done. And for this, we're going to gently break the seal, take it out from the very top and then gently pull it back and out. And my goodness, what a beautiful ear mold impression that is!


You make a good impression, sir. Go ahead. That's good. That might've been the toughest part of it all. Oh really? Yeah. Yeah. Not bad. Not bad, but it's pretty easy. Yeah. 


So I have all the landmarks great first bend, second bend, it's deep enough. And yep. And then we can take, um, this was send this off to the manufacturer to, um, provide, uh, hearing protection for you. Fantastic. Great. 


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