ORLANDO, Fla. - People who have lost their hearing in one ear are getting help from a breakthrough technology that uses their teeth.
You never realize how important both ears are until you lose your hearing in one of them.
Dennis Marsico has been deaf in his left ear for the last seven years. It's a condition known as single-sided deafness.
"I've tried other products in the past, they didn't work. I didn't feel they were comfortable; I didn't feel that they did the job," said Marsico.
He thought surgery was his last remaining option but then he heard about the "SoundBite"
"I grew up watching the Six Million Dollar Man and this is the closest to bionics that you can have," said Marsico.
The SoundBite consists of two pieces. The first is a small piece you put in your bad ear, the second is a receiver you clip onto your molar. Sound enters your bad ear and is transmitted to the mouth piece. Through vibrations in your teeth, that sound is then bounced up to your good ear.
"Your brain kind of tricks you, the sound is coming in from this side and it amplifies it on your right side," said Marsico.
"If somebody is talking to you on your bad side, you can hear it through your good side without having to [turn]," explained Dr. Aftab Patni with the Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates in Winter Park.
Dr. Patni is one of only a handful of doctors in Florida using the breakthrough technology. He says most of the time patients never know an exact cause for their single-sided deafness.
"For most people, it's a pretty dramatic change. One day they can hear the phone just fine and all of a sudden they don't hear anything in that ear," he said.
Dr. Patni says one thing is for sure: his patients love the SoundBite.
"We're living in an age now where technology is advancing constantly and this is a perfect example of that and it really works," said Marsico.
Dennis also said that it took him a few days to get used to wearing the SoundBite but now it's comfortable.
To learn more about the SoundBite, click on this link.