“I have tried many devices to block the sound of the drill (about 110 dB) and suction (about 120 dB). At the end of the day my ears ring very loudly and I have a pain in the left ear if I don’t use some kind of ear plug or ear muff. There are problems with using hearing protection. The ear plugs I’ve tried block all sound making communication with the patient difficult and they make you feel “stuffy” and out of balance since there is no air coming into the ear canal. I tried some plugs that have small channels for the air to come in and they are better but you still can’t hear the patient.The ear muffs work similar and feel somewhat better than the plugs but you look funny and have to explain to the patient why you are wearing them. They didn’t block the sound as well as the plugs because I wear loupes which prevents a solid seal of the muff right in front of the ear. Then I tried the ear muffs for hunters where there is a microphone so you can hear the patient. That helped with communication but the other problems were still there.
I then tried the DI15 ear plugs. These solved all the problems: they allow you to hear patient conversations, they allow air to come in so you don’t feel off balance, they are not very noticeable, and they blocked the noise sufficiently. Not one person has noticed them and I don’t feel awkward wearing them. I don’t know what I would do without them! The only issue I have is since I waited too long to start using ear protection I already have moderately severe hearing loss. I would recommend every working dentist out there to wear these because if you don’t have hearing loss and pain now you certainly will after 20 years!!