| FAQ - Miscellaneous - 2015
What are the current infection control standards for dental clinicians with beards? Is a standard ear loop mask enough to cover sufficiently? It seems that the sideburn area could benefit from additional coverage.
The 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry does not address hair, beards or facial hair.
Regarding hair in general, Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team states as follows:
One’s hair can become contaminated at work with aerosols and spatter material, but wearing a hair cover is more common during some surgical procedures than during routine dentistry. Routinely washing your hair at home is a good idea. 1
Masks in combination with eye protection devices such as goggles or glasses with solid side shields, or chin-length face shields, are to be worn whenever splashes, spray, spatter, or droplets of blood or saliva may be generated and eye, nose, or mouth contamination may occur. If face shields are used, they need to be curved to give protection to the sides of the eyes. 1
You may also find information found in these Google searches to be helpful:
dental infection control, beards
dental infection control, facial hair
It should be noted that if a respirator such as a N95 is used, then the issue of beards/facial hair is more clearly addressed.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states as follows:
What do you do with employees who have facial hair? (What if the beard or mustache is small enough that it is contained inside the respirator?)
Tight-fitting respirators require the wearer’s face to be clean shaven where the respirator’s seal comes in contact with the skin. If the facial hair does not extend far enough to interfere with the device’s seal in any way, or interfere with the function of the exhalation valve, the wearer may wear it with the approval of the respiratory protection administrator. Loose-fitting respirators, such as Powered Air-Purifying Respirators (PAPRs) with loose-fitting hoods, do not form a tight seal with the face and, therefore, do not require the wearer to have a clean shaven face. Loose-fitting respirators (i.e. respirators with loose-fitting hoods or helmets) are the only type of respirators that may be worn with facial hair and do not require fit testing. 4
The US Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states as follows:
RESPIRATOR FIT TESTING
Facial hair, like a beard or mustache, can affect your respirator's ability to protect you. Anything that comes between your face and the respirator's seal or gets into the respirator's valves can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator facepiece and you will not be protected. For example, if you have long hair, make sure it doesn't get between the respirator seal and your face because this can allow contaminated air to leak into the respirator. 5
From the 2011 OSAP Annual Symposium – “Conundrums” Discussion OSAP does make the following comment:
Facial hair – specifically beards, most schools had no problem with masks covering facial hair 6
1) Miller CH. Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 5th edition. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Page 83.
2) Google.com. Search for dental infection control, beards.
https://www.google.com/#q=dental+infection+control%2C+beards+ Accessed on October 15, 2015.
3) Google.com. Search for dental infection control, facial hair.
https://www.google.com/#q=dental+infection+control%2C+facial+hair Accessed on October 15. 2015.
4) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Respirator Trusted-Source Information. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/topics/respirators/disp_part/RespSource3selection.html Accessed on October 15, 2015.
5) The US Department of Labor – Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Respirator Fit Testing. https://www.osha.gov/video/respiratory_protection/fittesting_transcript.html Accessed on October 15, 2015.
6) Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention. 2011 OSAP Annual Symposium – “Conundrums” Discussion. https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/osap.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/Symposium_2011/Conundrums_2011.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22beard%22 Accessed on October 15, 2015.