What is an Earmold?
Earmolds go hand-in-hand with behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids. They connect the ear canal to the hearing aid and are responsible for sending the sound to your ear. Earmolds don’t have to be big; while they come in full shell, or large size, earmolds can also be canal size or half-shell size. In fact, there are more than 10 different, common styles of earmolds. These are typically available in a variety of colors, enabling individuals to show off their personality and style through their earmolds.
What types of earmolds are available?
Earmolds are also available in different types of plastic; the material you like the most for your earmolds typically depends on your personal preference, the shape and texture of your ear and the type of hearing instrument your hearing healthcare professional has prescribed for your hearing loss.
Common types of earmold materials include:
- Acrylic: This is typically considered the tried-and-true material, providing a strong, solid earmold that is easy to insert, clean and repair. The downside of acrylic is that it is unforgiving in head bumps or accidents; because of this, acrylic is not recommended for toddlers learning to walk or active children. Vinyl is a versatile material, softer than acrylic and with many of the same advantages of the harder material. A vinyl earmold is easy to insert and provides a tight acoustic seal. The tube will stay in place without glue, as well. One downside to acrylic is that modifying a vinyl earmold is typically more difficult than modifying an acrylic one.
- Silicone: Silicone is another versatile earmold, providing a flexible and comfortable wear and tight acoustic seal. The material is durable as well, more so than acrylic. A downside of silicone earmolds is that patients often have a more difficult time inserting the tube. The material is also difficult to modify.
- Polyethylene: This is typically a last-resort material for those individuals who have allergies to all other materials. The material isn’t as attractive, coming in a soft, milky white. The texture is much like candle wax, making it hard for hearing healthcare professionals to modify the earmolds.
In order to get the most out of your earmolds, it is important that they have a proper fit. Your hearing healthcare professional is the key player for ensuring the earmolds fit properly. Earmolds need to fit tight enough that sound doesn’t leak out, creating feedback. They need to leave enough room so that they don’t cause pain. The casting of your ear will enable the hearing healthcare professional to form an earmold that fits properly.