| FAQ - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - Archived Through 2012
What is the criteria for dental masks? How much filtration for general practice? Cone or elastic fit behind the ears?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings, in part, states that a surgical mask that covers both the nose and mouth and protective eyewear with solid side shields or a face shield should be worn by DHCP during procedures and patient-care activities likely to generate splashes or sprays of blood or body fluids. Protective eyewear for patients shields their eyes from spatter or debris generated during dental procedures. A surgical mask protects against microorganisms generated by the wearer, with >95% bacterial filtration efficiency, and also protects DHCP from large-particle droplet spatter that might contain bloodborne pathogens or other infectious microorganisms. The mask's outer surface can become contaminated with infectious droplets from spray of oral fluids or from touching the mask with contaminated fingers. Also, when a mask becomes wet from exhaled moist air, the resistance to airflow through the mask increases, causing more airflow to pass around edges of the mask. If the mask becomes wet, it should be changed between patients or even during patient treatment, when possible.
It is a personal choice as to which designed face one wears. The authors of Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, in part, state that the surgical masks commonly used in dentistry are dome shaped or pliable. They may be secured with an elastic band, ear loops, or ties. Because surgical masks do not provide a perfect seal around the edges, unfiltered exhaled and inhaled air can pass through these sites. Thus selection of a mask that fits the face well is important to minimize passage of unfiltered air. (2)
1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Infection Control Guidelines for Dental
Healthcare Settings. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm
2) Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 3rd. Edition. By
Miller and Palenik. Elsevier Mosby Publisher. Copyright 2005.