A toothy alternative to hearing aids

Apparently prosthetic teeth could make great hearing aids. Vibrations applied to replacements for lost teeth travel well through jawbones to the inner ear, according to research published by the Acoustical Society of America. 

Researchers want to turn tooth implants into hearing aids by building the electronics that impart sound vibrations into the portion of a false tooth anchored into the jawbone.

Researchers applied sound tones to implants, natural teeth and mastoid bones of 38 people with hearing loss and a single dental implant. And for a wide range of frequencies, the volunteers could hear sounds through implants as well as, or better than, through natural teeth or mastoid bones.

Front-tooth implants appeared to work slightly better than dental implants toward the back of the jaw. Lower teeth and implants worked as well as uppers for transmitting sound.

Researchers believe that, compared with traditional hearing aids worn behind or in the ear canal, dental implant hearing aids could offer enhanced concealment, good comfort and improved quality of sound. It’s certainly research we could get our teeth into…

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