On a daily basis, dental professionals must rely on a variety of different products to complete their procedures. But, when it comes to protection, no product is more important than a face mask. When you consider how many patients come into contact with you and your staff on a week-to-week basis, choosing the proper face masks for infection control can be the difference between controlling infectious diseases, or allowing them to spread through your office.
Today, many face masks are designed to cover the nose, mouth, and chin for maximum protection, but with the right mix of comfort, filtration, and breathability. These are the traits that most dental professionals would expect from a face mask—but after that, making a choice becomes more technical, and therefore, more complicated. Today we’ll take a look at the different levels available to help you make a decision.
First, Who Determines the Face Mask Standards?
ASTM International is the leader in the development and delivery of voluntary standards. Per their website (https://www.astm.org/ABOUT/full_overview.html), “over 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.” This is definitely the case for face masks, and ASTM is the entity responsible for determining the three different levels we’ll cover today.
What Are the Levels, and What Do They Mean?
With a quick Google search, you can dig as deeply into face mask details as you want—and into options beyond these three levels, too. For now, we’ll just highlight each level and their uses:
Level I Face Masks
Ideal for procedures where low amounts of fluid, spray, and/or aerosols are produced (meets EN14683 Rating – Type II Standard).
Level II Face Masks
Ideal for procedures where moderate to light amounts of fluid, spray, and/or aerosols are produced (meets EN14683 Rating – Type IIR Standard).
Level III Face Masks
Ideal for procedures where heavy to moderate amounts of fluid, spray, and/or aerosols are produced (meets EN14683 Rating – Type IIR Standard).
Obviously your face mask decision will be based on the amount of fluid, spray, and/or aerosols you think you’ll encounter during your procedures.
Which Face Mask Makes the Most Sense for Dental Professionals?
Choosing the right face mask boils down to determining how much protection you want. At Richmond Dental we offer Level I and Level III face masks. Our Level I face mask can be used with each patient. However, should you or a patient feel under the weather, our Level III Path-OGuard™ can offer additional protection against standard flu types or the dreaded norovirus. While we believe in high-quality dental products no matter the application, it’s even more important when one can have such a significant impact on your health, as well as your staff’s.
Interested in trying out one of our Earloop Face Masks for infection control? Reach out to request a sample here.