Ultrasonic Scaler Used by Dental Hygienists

Discussion in 'Support' started by DeltaOrionis, Sep 21, 2016.

    1. DeltaOrionis

      DeltaOrionis Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Playing in a band without ear protection.
      Hello,
      I was already affected with tinnitus and coping pretty well.

      Unfortunately, worry and anxiety started again, when last week I had to do a session of dental hygiene, in which the guy used a device called ultrasonic scaler to clean my teeth. The whole operation took about 15-25 minutes I'd say, with various breaks to rinse my mouth.

      The problem is, that the operation was very loud in my head, at least to me: this ultrasonic scaler occasionally sends very high pitch sounds / vibrations directly to your skull, especially when cleaning the rear teeth and, while I was listening to music with in-ears during the whole thing, it obviously didn't stop anything since the sound was traveling internally, instead I think it made it worse and even more distressing.

      Now it seems that my tinnitus changed (more high pitch) and louder, I'm concerned that the ultrasonic scaler could have caused damage, but maybe it's just the paranoia associated with the operation.

      For one thing, I didn't experience any ear pain during the cleaning, just extreme distress due to the annoying sounds. Afterwards, I didn't notice any ill effect to my hearing (no muffled earing, no pain, no ear discomfort), BUT I started monitoring and worrying about my tinnitus again, that's for sure.

      So what do you think?
      Can a dental hygiene session have damaged my ears or is it more likely that I'm stressing about it too much, causing the tinnitus change / spike?

      Does anyone have experience with ultrasonic cleaning and reported no ill effects?
       
    2. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      I've had 4 of these sessions this year as I'm on Denplan. I know exactly what you are talking about, but I highly doubt it's damaging. I'd suspect you are unnecessarily worrying about it which is making you anxious. In turn, this is affecting your tinnitus.

      Sounds to me like you are back in that vicious circle of monitoring T. It's making you anxious which is then making you monitor the sound even more.

      You need to try and relax; calm your CNS down.
       
    3. Sam Bridge

      Sam Bridge Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music/gigs probably
      I had a session of this two weeks ago and nothing changed.
       
    4. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      I had no change either.
       
    5. Sam Bridge

      Sam Bridge Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music/gigs probably
      I was £55 down though! Not bad for 20 minutes work being a dentist lol.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      DeltaOrionis

      DeltaOrionis Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Playing in a band without ear protection.
      Thank you a lot for your answers, I'm trying to calm down and your reassuring support really helps.

      Unfortunately I'm still worried I may have caused damage, especially because I was using in-ear earplugs playing music all the time (to try to distract me from the operation) that caused the occlusion effect, making the ultrasonic scaler sound even worse in my head.

      Can the occlusion effect actually make the sound louder and more harming, or is it only a perception thing (i.e. in-ears cause me to perceive the internal sounds louder, but don't actually make them louder and more harming)?
       
    7. Foncky
      Lurking

      Foncky Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      March 2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Music. Balloon. Genetic.
      I'm having a lot of dental work these days. Very unfortunate, because my H is severe (as is my T).

      I had an ultrasonic cleaning a month ago. I found it painful, but not as painful as a drill.

      I wore earmuffs because I realized that the ultrasounds mostly came to my ears by the aerial way, not so much by bone conduction. This is exactly the opposite with the drill.

      My ears were not really fine after the cleaning but no permanent damage was done, I'm sure you'll be ok. But don't wear earplugs or earmuffs if you have to get some drilling.
       
    8. BBQBLISS

      BBQBLISS Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ultrasonic cleaning
      YES my T started with a dental ultrasonic teeth cleanng. My brain is still ringing today amd it is 3 years later!!! It is not an ear issue but a nerve damage issue. Can anyone help?
       
    9. Ecip

      Ecip Member

      Location:
      Edmonton, AB
      Tinnitus Since:
      4.11.2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Still unknown... possibly noise exposure?
      Last spike I had was exacerbated by this cleaner. Had a restless night that night.
      Don't want to do it again. She'll just have to scrape bit by bit by hand.
       
    10. Joella Drury

      Joella Drury Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Age/ Ear infection
      I have had tennitus for 5 years and go to the dentist every six months to have my teeth cleaned by the ultrasonic cleaner - usually no problems. Last week however I got a huge spike in the sound of my tennitus - sounded like jackhammers 24/7 and had been so stresed and anxious all week. Went to my Ear Clinic to have my ears cleaned, saw my GP for sleeping tablets (first time ever but had had no sleep for four nights) made an appt with a new ENT specialist (who has tennitus) and sought a second opinion from another dentist as I was told I had two cavities - the new dentist could not see any - I would have had the tooth removed - no drilling. He suggested I see a dental hygienist - he will manually clean my teeth - takes longer- but no noise. The spike in sound will abate but you need to be pro-active and do things that psychologically puts your mind at ease.
       
    11. KOBasel

      KOBasel Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Think it was ultrasonic scaler teeth clean ing
      I'm on a pursuit to find this out myself. I have never had tinnitus or noticed it. Went to dentist on Nov. 1 for a teeth cleaning. The hygienist was using an ultrasonic scaler. When she cleaned my back molars on the right side, it was so loud in my right ear - sounded super loud in that right ear like she was doing the procedure inside my ear. On the left side I had no problems. I asked why it was so loud afterwards, it was really uncomfortably loud on that right side. She said she would ask the dentist. He came in and asked me if I have had any ear damage. To which I responded NO. Then he explained that I have tinnitus. I had never heard of it before then, but ever since that visit I have had non-stop ringing coming from my right ear at least I think it is from the right ear... I have never experienced that before "ever", so I didn't have tinnitus, but this procedure sure enough created it for me. Now I'm trying to figure out cause and what to do... The other thing to which I think he was wrong, he described that this event would be a result of me already having tinnitus (which I haven't experienced ever) and that it could be related to burnout at work. I highly doubt that to be the case - recently finished a nice 8 week holiday....
      Any help is welcome
       
    12. Sarah214

      Sarah214 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/14/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ultrasonic scaler
      There should be a mandatory warning about the risks involved with getting your teeth cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler. I didn't know there were risks. I had my teeth cleaned with ultrasonic scaling last month. During the cleaning of a molar, I experienced sharp pain in my ear. That evening my ear began to ring with a high pitch annoying ring that has been continual now for a month straight. I did not have tinnitus before the cleaning. It was definitely caused by the ultrasonic scaler when it was used on my molar. I regret getting my teeth cleaned as I worry that the tinnitus is permanent.
       
    13. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      I had an ultrasonic cleaning done the end of January. The same issue my tinnitus definately got higher pitched. Before that I was really adjusting and had a bunch of quite days and the pitch was softer.

      Don't have them do this procedure, it depends on the setting they put the device on and the timeframe.

      There is a very old abstract from the 70's that in their case study 40% had temporary threshold changes in their hearing at 8khz. Which is the frequency of the biggest dip in my hearing.

      Do maybe the ultrasonic cleaner only effects people with tinnitus at that frequecy? I would assume the ultrasonic scaler in the 70's was louder but who knows?

      I'm trying to adjust once again, but I feel really guilty I made my tinnitus even more annoying.

      The tinnitus association should have some guidelines on common things to avoid. the scaler didn't seem loud until it was in contact with my molars.
       
    14. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Would you happen to have a link to that source?
       
    15. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      sure let me find it.
       
    16. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
    17. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
    18. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
    19. DT_N_DA_CLUB

      DT_N_DA_CLUB Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2011
      I found it, here is a copy and paste. it's a PDF.

      "Another commonly used dental handpiece is the ultrasonic scaler, which Moller et al (1976) measured. Ultrasonic scaling is regarded as an imperative procedure in periodontal therapy. These instruments are used to irrigate areas under the gingival line in order to treat patients with periodontal disease. Due to their high frequency nature (2542 kHz), the study assessed output levels to determine if they could be considered hazardous to the auditory system. 20 healthy dental students ages 22-36 were exposed to ultrasonic scaling on their maxillary teeth for 5 minutes. Researchers performed pure tone audiograms on each student both pre- and post-exposure. Temporary threshold shifts were found for 8 individuals. These shifts ranged from 10-20 dB at 8 kHz. 3 subjects reported tinnitus lasting 20-30 minutes following exposure. No permanent thresholds shifts were found. Duration is also an important factor to determine if output intensity and/or frequency can cause hearing loss. The amount of time that a dentist continuously operates a handpiece depends on the type of procedure performed as well as individual preference and/or need. Schubert et al (1963), Cantwell et al (1965), and Peyton (1974) reported that dentists on an average operate handpieces continuously for 12 minutes per 8-hour day. In other words, the dentist actually uses the handpiece for short periods of time all of which equate to 12 minutes in an 8-hour period of time. Kilpatrick (1981) and Hendler et al (1984) estimated based on procedure and individual preference that the continuous exposure time ranged from 15-45 minutes based on an 8-hour day."

      I'm sure they were probably louder back then. But it seems like the more recent study suggested temporary hearing loss at 4 kHz and the older 70's one states 8khz. Someone smarter than me needs to make sense out of this.

      It seems like if they determined there is no positive proof that the procedure can lead to long term permanent hearing loss they definately have several studies over the years which makes a rationale person think there is a risk.
       
    20. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Keep in mind that the study you are quoting above covers the dental hygienists, and not the patients. They are exposed differently (the sound is further away and they don't endure bone conduction, but they do have more frequent exposure).
       
    21. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Indeed.
      Most of the studies seem to focus on the dental hygienists - but the last one you quoted was from the patient's perspective.
      I tend to think that the equipment got better with time (40-50 years is a long time!) but it would certainly be interesting to have an equivalent study done with contemporary tools.
      The good news - as you pointed out - is that there doesn't seem to be any permanent shift, but still, we don't really know how it would affect someone whose hearing apparatus is already somewhat broken.

      Thanks for the links!
       
    22. cspc
      Studious

      cspc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma + Ototoxic Meds + Concussion

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