New device helps Single Sided Deafness sufferers

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PHOENIX -- Four year ago, Maureen Perfect developed vertigo, which resulted in permanent hearing loss in her left ear.

"You don't realize how important hearing is until you lose part of it," she said.

Single sided deafness (SSD) is described as significant or total hearing loss in one ear. SSD can be caused by a number of things, including physical trauma, acoustic neuroma, measles, microtia, meningitis, or mumps.  It is usually a permanent condition.

"There are lot of people staying out there with what we call single-sided deafness, hearing loss in one ear, who in the past were told there is nothing we can do about it, you've got another ear, don't worry about it," said Dr. Mark J. Syms, an otologist/neuro-otologist.

But now there is new hope for people like Perfect. From the inventors of Invisalign, comes the SoundBite. A device that attaches to your teeth to help restore hearing.

"This little appliance will fit on my back teeth on the right side, because this is where the good hearing is, and then it will bring it on over to the left ear," Perfect said.

"We put a vibrator that's custom fit onto your teeth and that's how the sound gets from the non-hearing side, perhaps on the right side, to the left," Syms explained.

Basically, your teeth serve as a sound transmitter.

"It doesn't make you Superman or the Bionic Woman or anything like that, what it does is that it brings you back to what you've lost," Syms said.

Syms is one of only a handful of doctors nationwide who have the SoundBite and predicts many will benefit from it.

"There will be, very shortly within a year, hundreds upon hundreds of patients in the Phoenix valley who will be using this technology," he said.

The Soundbite will be available starting in November. For additional information about the SoundBite, visit www.soundbitehearing.com. To reach Dr. Mark Syms, call Arizona Ear Center at 602-307-9919. The office is located at 2627 N. Third St., Suite 201, Phoenix, AZ 85004.