Inside Dental Assisting
Making the Right Choice in Personal Protection Matters
Face masks from Sultan Healthcare: an essential tool against infectious materials
The face mask is one of the most important infection prevention tools a dental office has to fight against the spread of infectious diseases. Pathogens, droplets, spatter, aerosols, and other potentially infectious materials that are generated from dental procedures make the face mask essential personal protection equipment (PPE) for dental professionals and a tool worth knowing more about.
In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued guidelines for the “Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings.”1 In the guidelines, the CDC recommends a combination of PPE to protect “mucous membranes, airways, skin, and clothing from contact with infectious agents.” Recent studies2 continue to confirm the essential nature of PPE in the dental office and have recognized the importance of face masks in decreasing the risk for hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, attributing protection from these two diseases more to the use of masks than other PPE among the 322 dentists and dental assistants studied.
These pieces join a corpus of literature that point toward a best practice of combining PPE that is appropriate for specific patients and procedures. It is no longer adequate to approach every case the same and to rely on a one PPE-approach strategy.
Choice is important!
Selecting an Appropriate Face Mask
With the shift toward flexible PPE combinations, the following technical considerations should be considered:
Fluid Resistance – Look for a variety of resistance levels (measured in terms of mmHg) to cover procedures with light fluid exposure (typical dental hygiene appointments) to those with moderate-to-heavy fluid exposure.
Filtration Efficiency – Masks should advertise bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) and submicron particle filtration efficiency (PFE) measurements to enable professionals with the ability to make the right choice in protection against aerosols and other airborne contagions.
Fit – Mask size and ear loop length should offer a snug fit without pulling on ears, avoiding end-of-day headaches.
Breathability – Increased fluid resistance often comes at the expense of how easy it is to breathe while wearing a mask. Low Delta P (mm H2O/cm2) ratings make it easier to breathe through your face mask.
Feel – Personal protection does not need to come at the expense of comfort. Innovative materials now provide the protection you need with the softness/comfort you should expect.
While the technical parameters are very important, if the mask is not worn correctly—completely covering the nose and mouth—it will not provide protection. A comfortable, well-fitting mask will help ensure compliance.
Your PPE Option
Sultan Healthcare offers an array of products to meet your PPE needs, including the new COM-FIT PLUSHTM Masks line. COM-FIT PLUSH Masks change the game by bringing you choice in protection with ultimate comfort. Table 1 details the COM-FIT PLUSH Masks line, which offers dental professionals a transparent system to make informed choices. With the new COM-FIT PLUSH Masks line, dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, and other staff members can be protected and comfortable.
1. Siegel JD, Rhinehart E, Jackson M, Chiarello L; for the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee. 2007 guideline for isolation precautions: preventing transmission of infectious agents in healthcare settings. http://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/isolation/Isolation2007.pdf. Accessed March 6, 2014.
2. Ammon A, Reichart PA, Pauli G, Petersen LR. Hepatitis B and C among Berlin dental personnel: incidence, risk factors, and effectiveness of barrier prevention measures. Epidemiol Infect. 2000:125(2):407-413.
The preceding material was provided by the manufacturer. The statements and opinions contained therein are solely those of the manufacturer and not of the editors, publisher, or the Editorial Board of Inside Dental Assisting.
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