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How are Custom-Molded Earplugs Made?

a pair of orange foam ear plugs

If you want the ultimate protection for your hearing, you may be considering custom-molded earplugs. This type of personalized hearing protection is a good route to go if you have concerns over any previous loss of hearing, or you work in an environment where you are regularly exposed to loud noise. This type of defense is the most effective available against hearing loss caused by external noise and can be an important preventative healthcare step recommended by your audiologist. 

What is a custom molded earplug?

Custom-molded earplugs are different from off-the-shelf solutions in the same way a tailored suit is different from something off the peg – they are completely designed to fit you. These type of earplugs are formed from a custom mold taken of your own ear by a trained professional. These are usually made from either a soft type of silicone or sometimes acrylic, and fit snugly into the ear canal. 

This tighter fit is incredibly effective at blocking noise damage. Another huge advantage that they have is a slight flexibility. This allows them to expand and compress slightly as you are chewing or talking and the movement of the jaw slightly changes the shape of your ear canal, while still retaining a great fit. That means your hearing protection is not compromised while you enjoy certain activities.

What do custom-molded earplugs look like?

These types of earplugs look slightly different to disposable or off-the-shelf options that you may have seen before. Typically, they feature a colored section on the outside, and a clear inner portion. Often, your custom-molded earplugs will be supplied by your audiologist with a storage case or pouch, plus a tube of lubricant. 

This lubricant goes into the earplugs while you first use them. It makes them easier for you to insert for the initial few applications and it softens the earplugs slightly for a much better fit. After you have used your custom earplugs several times, you should no longer need to apply lubricant first, and you should find that the earplugs are molded fully to the shape of your ear canal.

Why should I get custom-molded earplugs?

There are lots of reasons why people who are concerned about their hearing want to take the step of investing in custom earplugs:

A better impression

The impressions that are taken to create custom earplugs can only be done by an audiologist or someone who has been especially trained by the manufacturer. This means a quality of work in making sure that the concha, ear canal and helix are all accurately mapped. The labs assure a certain level of quality in their processes and production also. 

That way, you know that the custom earplugs you receive will be a perfect fit, provide a good level of protection against noise and are comfortable to wear. Comfort is more important than it might seem, because earplugs that don’t find comfortably are unlikely to be worn or you may attempt to modify them and render them ineffective in the process.

Higher quality

Custom-molded earplugs are made from quality, high-grade silicone. Depending on how you care for them, they can be easily expected to last up to five years or longer.  Caring for your earplugs is easy – simply rinse under warm running water or use a mild soap solution to make them as good as new. You should avoid using solvents or harsh detergents to clean your custom earplugs if you want to get the longest lifespan from them, as these may damage the material over time.

Fitting to all ear sizes

Everyone has a different size and shape of ear canal, and if yours are larger or smaller than average then off-the-shelf earplugs will not provide much protection – if they even fit in the first place. You may even have an unusual shaped ear canal due to birth conditions, surgery or viral infection – which is no problem with a custom fit. 

This means that even if you cannot use pre-made earplugs at all, you may have more success with custom-made ones. Your impressions are also usually kept for a period of time, meaning that if your custom earplugs are lost or damaged in that time, another pair can be easily produced without the need to re-mold your ears.

If you think custom earplugs could be the way forward for you, call Advanced Hearing Services on 970-221-5249 for more information from our trained audiologists.