One of the medical personnel affected in this Pandemic is the Dentists. Since countries have imposed strict lockdowns and community quarantines, dentists were not able to fully operate and give their services to people. But now that some of the lockdown restrictions in various countries have been lifted, dentists can now operate.
In most cases, dentists or dental surgeons do overall check-up prior to having an operation (if needed). A mask is often worn to keep them protected from airborne particles. It is a part of their PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. But what exactly is the appropriate mask that should be worn by dental surgeons?
The common disposable surgical masks are the ones that they wear. They are those that come in blue on the outside and white on the inside. Mostly loose-fitting and good for one-time use. They also come in a variety of thickness. The explanation for this is the varied thickness has their individual properties as to how well can the mask protects the wearer from fluids. Surgical masks, once properly worn, can mean protection against bigger particles of fluid that may contain strains of viruses and bacteria.
Would an N95 respirator be an alternative to the surgical masks?
The N95 respirator would be an even greater alternative for the surgical masks. The N95 respirator, or also known as the N95 mask, guarantees protection and proficient filtering of particles. The mask is purposely created to filter up to 95% of airborne particles like dust, smoke, and fluid. The N95 respirator is widely utilized in the field of medicine.
What are some differences and similarities between the N95 respirator and the disposable surgical mask?
Both masks are regulated by the FDA and have a common purpose; to protect the wearer from the potential harm of contacting from fluids. The surgical mask and the N95 respirator guarantee quality protection once worn properly. Also, the N95 respirator and the surgical face mask are good for a one-time use
As explained earlier, surgical masks are loose-fitting and can create a protective shield in the area of the mouth and the nose. But the fact that it is loose-fitting, it does not guarantee wholesome protection. It is prone to leakage and may harm the wearer. The N95 respirator, on the other hand, secures a tight fit in the area of the mouth and nose. So the potential for any leakage is not that highly anticipated.
Are there models of the N95 respirator that can be used?
3M, the world’s number one maker of the N95 respirator, has developed a number of models of the said mask. There are valved and valved N95 respirators that are available at the nearest pharmacy. Here are some N95 respirator models that can be used as an alternative to the disposable surgical mask.
This N95 respirator is an unvalved particulate respirator. Despite not having any valve, this N95 respirator model can still filter airborne particles and can provide ensured protection to dental surgeons. With its enclosed fit in the area of the mouth and nose, this N95 respirator is perfect for operations and surgeries.
This is a valved respirator and probably the most economical valved N95 respirator in the market today. This does not only provide convenience, this N95 respirator helps lessen the trapped heat inside it. This particular respirator has an exhalation valve that does the magic.
The 3M 1860
This N95 respirator is FDA and NIOSH approved. Commonly used in hospitals and is disposable. This N95 respirator comes in blue color and has a thick texture, needed for the wearer’s protection and safety. This model of the N95 respirator has a bacterial filtration efficiency of 99%. This makes the bacteria impossible to infiltrate the area of the mouth and nose.
Can the N95 respirator be used for multiple occasions?
Normally, the N95 respirator cannot be used multiple times. It is often disposable and must be properly disposed of after use. This is to avoid further contamination and for the enhanced safety of the dental surgeon. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had released a protocol regarding reusing the N95 respirator. This is in response to the scarcity and high demands of the N95 respirator. Although 3M is constantly making efforts in meeting the demands for the N95 respirator, the demand still goes higher as cases of CoViD patients continue to skyrocket.
Also, alternatives like UV distillation is recommended for those who want to reuse their N95 respirator. But only those N95 respirator which does not have any fluid contact can be potentially reused. Another sign that the N95 respirator can be used is the fit on the nose and the overall color of the respirator itself. Any sign of discoloration would mean the disposal of the N95 respirator.
In the absence of the N95 respirator and disposable surgical masks, what else could be worn?
Aside from the N95 respirator and its models and the disposable surgical mask, there are other alternatives that can be worn by dental surgeons. These alternatives work just like the N95 respirator. Or if not, it can provide protection like the N95 respirator.
This is the Chinese alternative for the N95 respirator in the US. This mask also has protection similar to the N95 respirator. However, people are quite skeptical about this mask because it is a China-made mask. But purchasing this mask from trusted dealers, it would work just like the N95 respirator.
This one is the European equivalent of the N95 respirator. With a filtration ability of 94%, this ensures protection and safety like the N95 respirator. And like the KN95, this mask is a lightweight mask.
ASTM level 3 Surgical Mask
This surgical mask is different from the commercially produced disposable surgical mask. This comes with 4-layer protection that allows the dental surgeons protection, breathability, and comfort they need. Crafted for fluid protection, this surgical mask is also for those dental surgeons who want to skip wearing an N95 respirator.
The N95 respirator is indeed a great help for dental surgeons now that they are allowed to operate their clinics and provide service to those who need it. Because in this time of need, oral care is also a need.