Does Your Mask Really Fit? The Importance of Fit Testing

15 Jul

All of us are trying to get back to our dental office operation while implementing new rules and protocols.  We are all getting used to working with added PPE like face shields, gowns, and N95 masks.  But one thing I am seeing is that many dentists are still not getting properly fitted with N95s.  Proper fit testing of ALL N95 respirators is an important issue and testing each type and brand of mask is critical to making sure it provides a secure seal during aerosol-generating procedures.

Proper fit testing ensures a seal around the edges of the mark so that you are safe from any aerosol that could carry pathogens like coronavirus. This is necessary so that you are protected and can go home to your family safely each day.  But it also protects your patients so that you are not exchanging those pathogens with other patients.

I know fit testing can be a hassle and can be very expensive.  Based on recent feedback, over 80% of dental offices have still not been tested for fit.  But proper fit is key.  If the respirator doesn’t fit your face properly, contaminated air can leak into the respirator face-piece, and you can breathe in pathogens or viruses.  A proper fit ensures that you don’t expose yourself to those pathogens and pass them on to other patients and your family.

With the amount of aerosol produced in a typical dental appointment, this is an important step for each and every brand of mask we have.  As each mask can fit differently on your face, it is important to test each one individually so that you can be certain that you and your patients are safe.

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