Considering the importance of hearing health in the high-decibel environment of dental offices, it's worth asking:

Should dentists wear ear protection?

In the hustle and bustle of a dental office, amidst the whirring of drills and the clatter of instruments, one crucial aspect often overlooked is the hearing health of dentists and dental professionals. Understanding how we hear, the prevalence of tinnitus in the dental industry, and the necessity of proper hearing protection are paramount for ensuring the well-being of those who dedicate their days to caring for others' oral health.

How Do We Hear?

Before delving into the specifics of hearing protection for dentists, let's briefly explore the intricate process of hearing. Sound waves travel through the ear canal and cause vibrations in the eardrum. These vibrations are then transmitted through tiny bones in the middle ear to the cochlea, where they are converted into electrical signals and sent to the brain for interpretation. I’m often heard saying, “We hear with our brains!” Our ears are the funnels; our cochleas are the delicate transducers; and our BRAINS are where our hearing takes place. 

Tinnitus: A Common Concern

Tinnitus, often described as a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears, affects millions worldwide. In the dental industry, where exposure to high noise levels is frequent, the prevalence of tinnitus is notably higher - dentists and dental professionals are 50% more likely to suffer from tinnitus and hearing loss compared to the general population. Prolonged exposure to loud equipment and machinery, such as drills and suction devices, can contribute to the development of this condition. (Murray, Ian D. BA, HIS, AHIP, IHS. Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Among Dentists. The Hearing Journal 73(1):p 10,12,13, January 2020. | DOI: 10.1097/01.HJ.0000651540.52366.f5).

Noise Levels in Dental Offices - Are dentists and dental hygienists at risk for noise-included hearing loss? 

The noise levels generated by common dental equipment can be surprisingly high. For instance, dental drills can reach levels of up to 95 decibels (dB), exceeding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for safe noise exposure. Dentists and dental professionals may be exposed to these noise levels for extended periods, increasing the risk of hearing damage and tinnitus.

In my clinical practice, I often had dentists as patients whose primary concern was bothersome, constant ear ringing. We could go into the sound booth and pitch-match their tinnitus to the primary pitch of the dental hand-piece! The repeated exposure at that particular frequency damages the delicate hair cells in the cochlea which are coded for that pitch, leading to a dip in hearing ability, leading to the brain’s response of the phantom sound production. For more on tinnitus pathophysiology, check out this article and this TED Talk.

Issues with Traditional Hearing Protection

Traditional hearing protection, such as foam earplugs, often fall short in providing adequate protection for dentists. While they may reduce overall noise levels, they can also impede communication with patients and colleagues, leading to potential misunderstandings and inefficiencies in patient care.

OtoPro's Innovative Solutions

Recognizing the need for effective hearing protection tailored to the unique challenges faced by dentists, OtoPro offers innovative solutions for level-dependent attenuation, allowing conversational levels to pass through while providing immediate protection from equipment sounds. OtoPro’s Impulse Filters are available in both non-custom and custom versions. The non-custom version, The OtoPro Impulse, is great for gifting alongside a gift card for your loved one to upgrade to the custom fit. 

Versatility and Customization

What sets OtoPro's products apart is their versatility and customization options. The interchangeable filters cater to various environments, whether it be dental offices, industrial settings, or leisure activities like music concerts or hunting. Additionally, solid block adapters quickly convert the plugs into unfiltered plugs - great for sleeping or tuning everything out. 

The Perfect Gift for Dental Professionals

With graduation season approaching, consider OtoPro's hearing protection solutions as a thoughtful gift for dental students and professionals alike. Don't just take our word for it; hear what Lee Gary, DMD, has to say: "I'm loving my OtoPro earplugs. My only regret is not finding these earlier in my career. They are comfortable enough that I don't take them out even when I'm conversing with patients, and I can hear them just fine." By prioritizing their hearing health, you're investing in their long-term well-being and success in the dental profession.

Join Us in Our Mission

At OtoPro, our mission is simple yet profound: to safeguard the hearing health of individuals across diverse industries. We invite you to explore our range of products and discover how we can support you in your journey towards better hearing protection. Whether you're a seasoned dental professional seeking advanced hearing solutions or a dental student embarking on your career, OtoPro has you covered.

Take Action Today

Visit our shop to explore our innovative hearing protection products, including the OtoPro Impulse and OtoPro Custom Filtered earplugs with impulse filters. Consult with our expert team to find the perfect solution tailored to your needs. 

Preserve Your Hearing for Years to Come

Don't let noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus take a toll on your personal and professional life. Take proactive steps to protect your hearing and invest in OtoPro's cutting-edge solutions. Your hearing health is our priority, and we're here to support you every step of the way.


In the fast-paced environment of dental offices, protecting hearing health is a priority that cannot be overlooked. From understanding the mechanisms of hearing to addressing the challenges of tinnitus and noise exposure, OtoPro is committed to providing innovative solutions tailored to the needs of dental professionals. Visit our website today to learn more and take the first step towards preserving your hearing for years to come.

Dr. Grace Sturdivant is the owner and founder of OtoPro Technologies. She completed her Doctorate of Audiology degree at Vanderbilt University Medical School before diving headfirst into the world of diagnosing and treating hearing loss. First working in the medical and research environments, Grace combined her professional findings with a love and interest for outdoorsmanship to launch her own hearing conservation business, OtoPro Technologies. Grace’s expertise allows her to vet, recommend, and provide the ideal product, brands, and manufacturers that are tailored to meet each client’s specific hearing needs, whether they're an avid shooter, experienced musician, or any profession in-between.


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