Many decisions must be made in order to successfully fit your patients with hearing instruments and earpieces. The following are simple guidelines based on Westone's over 60 years of experience making custom-fit products for the ear.
If you suspect that discomfort might be an issue, there are a few things to consider before selecting an earpiece material. First, check your patient's skin texture. If the skin texture is firm, consider using a soft earpiece material. If your patient's skin is soft or delicate, as can often be the case with elderly patients, try using a firmer earpiece material, or a silicone earpiece with Slick-Sil® AM coating.
The helix area of an earpiece can sometimes cause problems. Many earpiece styles do not require a helix to ensure a secure fit. You can reduce potential problems by ordering a 3/4 shell or half-shell style earpiece. This is a particularly good choice for patients who may experience sensitivity in the anti-helix area.
If loose fit is a concern, request that the earpiece be built up for a tighter fit. If you are using an acrylic material, consider changing to a softer material as well.
Use OtoBlast™ clear silicone earpiece material (specify 'without glaze') if allergies are a concern. Since earpieces made from silicone can be abrasive to delicate skin, particularly in elderly patients, request our Slick-Sil® AM earpiece coating to ensure ease of insertion. You can also select acrylic or clear vinyl earpiece materials that have been boiled in saline solution as an alternative to OtoBlast™. Polyethylene earpiece material is available for extreme allergy situations.
Use the softest earpiece material possible for fitting a patient with severe mandibular action. Consider tapering the canal or specify a KC (hollow) style that will allow the earpiece to flex with jaw movement.
If you suspect that feedback could be a problem, use a bite-block, deep-impression technique. Consider using a silicone material (with matte finish) if the patient's skin texture will allow.