How BTE (Behind the Ear) Ear Molds Are Made
(Note: None of our hearing aids require a mold. This article is a public service to our customers who want to know what is involved with having an ear mold made)
The audiologist or hearing aid dispenser first inspect your ear canal to make sure there is no excess ear wax in the canal and that the ear drum is healthy. They will then mix a quick drying silicon material and inject the liquid into the ear canal. The silicon material is very slippery to the touch and it will plug up the ear completely.
Photo courtesy USAF
After a few minutes, the hardened silicon, the consistency of soft rubber, is gently removed from the ear. Because of the slipperiness of the material, the hairs in the ear will not be pulled when the mold is removes. A few "wiggles" usually breaks the mold free and it can be removed.
The impression is sent to a lab, which creates a negative of the impression. The lab then use that negative to create the actual mold. The ear mold material is harder than the original impression, but still slightly soft so that it will not irritate the ear canal.
Sample Ear mold for the right ear - Each person's custom ear mold will
be uniquely made to the shape of their own ear canal
While at the lab, or when the mold is returned, there will be two holes drilled through it: the hole that the hearing aid will fit into that is drilled through the center of the mold from front to back, and a smaller diameter vent hole that is also drilled front to back, but lower. The vent hole helps equalize air pressure between the hearing aid itself and the ear drum, and also allows a small amount of air to circulate to vent moisture.
If the mold is for a BTE hearing aid, the output side of the hearing aid tube (the side facing the ear drum) is inserted into the middle hole of the mold using a short piece of flexible tubing. The tubing is pushed through the length of the middle hole and. It stays there and acts both as a guide and a support to keep the hole open.
Ear molds can come in a variety of colors, although most hearing aid wearers do not wear decorative ear molds. Some designs are meant to make the ear molds blend in with the skin color while others are flashy and decorative.
Sample BTE with two different mold styles