SEATTLE -- Thirty-six million adults in the U.S. report some loss of hearing, but only one in five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one. Now, a new device you put in your mouth could help many hear much better.
Remember how the grown-ups in Charlie Brown sounded?
With 80 percent hearing loss in her right ear, that's how Mia Tavan says people sound to her.
"Wah, wah, wah, wah, like I can tell there's sound, but the inner ear nerves are fried and can't translate sound,” she said.
Now, she's got a hearing device on her tooth.
The sound bite is helping her hear through vibrations, which the patient hears in their better ear.
Mia's bad ear is fitted with a microphone that transmits sound to her tooth. Those vibrations travel through her skull and are picked up by the inner part of her good ear.
The bone conduction technology gives her the sense that she can hear in both ears.
"As long as the hearing in the good ear is near normal, patients with bilateral or hearing loss in both ears are not good candidates," said Susan M. Kellerher, audiologist. “It just hooks over your ear."
Mia says the sound bite has made her life better.
"Oh it's been amazing. It's been absolutely amazing," she said.
She said the only downsides are occasional feedback, and making sure the batteries are charged. There are other bone conduction devices on the market, but they require surgery.
The sound bite does not require any invasive procedures. It is FDA approved, but it's not covered by all insurance companies.
The device costs about $7,000.