Face Masks

How to choose the right face mask for dental offices

Choosing the best dental face masks in Australia can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Apart from just choosing an effective face mask that you will be comfortable wearing, it is also important to choose a face mask that meets the local regulations and Australian Standards.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right face mask.

Bacterial filtration efficiency

You should consider the bacterial filtration efficiency, which measures how effective the face mask filters bacteria out when it comes into contact with an aerosol. According to ASTM, testing with a droplet of 3.0 microns in size is very important. High and moderate protection masks have rates of filtering bacteria of between 98% to greater than 99%. We have some manufacturers that apply the modified Greene & Vesely method to find out the BFE rating. However, ASTM does not recommend this method for evaluation and product comparison consistency.

Particulate filtration efficiency

You should also consider the particulate filtration efficiency (PFE) that measures how well a face mask filters sub-micron particles with the expectation that the face mask will filter out viruses in the same way. The higher the percentage, the better the efficiency of the mask. Although testing is typically available using a particle that has a size between 0.1 to 5.0 microns, a particle size of 0.1 microns is specified by the ASTM F2100-11. When it comes to comparing test results, it is crucial to note the size of the particles used during testing, as the use of larger particles will produce a PFE rating that could be misleading.

Fluid resistance

Another important thing to consider when choosing dental face masks is fluid resistance. The fluid resistance of the mask reflects the ability of the mask to reduce the amount of fluid that can transfer from the outer layers of the mask to the inner layer due to the result of spray or splash. ASTM specifies using synthetic blood to test fluid resistance. The specified pressures of the synthetic blood during testing are 160-, 120-, or 80-mm Hg to qualify for high, medium and low fluid resistance.

Delta P

Delta P refers to pressure differential measures the mask’s airflow resistance and is an objective measure of the breathability of the face mask. During the testing process, a controlled flow of air is typically driven through the mask. The pressure on either side of the face mask is then determined. The pressure difference is measured and then divided by the surface area of the mask segment tested. When the Delta P-value is higher, it becomes harder for the wearer of the mask to breathe. It is therefore important to choose a mask with a delta P less than 5.0 because a value higher than that will be too hot for surgical or medical use.

Flame spread

When choosing dental face masks Australia, it is important to consider the flame spread. Oxygen and other types of gases used for anaesthesia are present in the operating room and there are some potential fire hazards from equipment such as cautery equipment and lasers. It is therefore important for products used within surgical rooms, including face masks to be tested for flame resistance.

Written by Guest Contributor Mel Chua