Sorry if that sounds a bit too much like a Daily Mail headline, but it may be true. Do you sometimes get home and feel like all you want is some peace and quiet? I often feel like that and I think a big reason for that desire is that my work day is full of a barrage of annoying background noise. And at times that noise may be a lot louder than you realise.
For instance, an app on my phone suggests that the volume of the noise 1 foot away from a running handpiece and suction is over 80Db and this number is higher if the ultrasonic bath is also running in the background. Perhaps more surprisingly the figures are even higher still during my commute which makes up 1.5 hours of my day, even though I spend that in a modern car with good soundproofing.
I accept that those figures may not be 100% accurate as it is not a calibrated device but to put those figures into context, if you spend a significant amount of your work day exposed to sound over 80Db, your employer is supposed to do a risk assessment about the potential impact on your hearing. Above 85Db and they are legally obliged to offer you ear protection.
So recently I have been testing out these high end earplugs:
I have tested them a few times at work and if I’m honest don’t feel I will make a lot of use of them in that environment apart from the rare occasion when I may be treating a pt having multiple crown preps in 1 sitting. Although I can still hear well enough to engage in conversation, it isn't perfectly comfortable for me because they alter the feedback I get from my own voice. However I am planning on continuing to wear them during my commute because it just makes it so much more peaceful and doesn't in any way stop me from being able to listen to my audiobooks.
If you have tried earplugs in the past or are a regular user of them I would be interested to find out which ones you like/dislike so others can benefit from that knowledge too.
Dr Chris Harper