Wearing a surgical mask is a necessity for many doctors, including dentists and surgeons. A surgical mask works in two ways—keeping the doctor’s germs from threatening the patient’s sensitive immune system, as well as keeping the doctor free of illness. In countries like Japan, surgical masks have become an everyday accessory for many men and women conscious about breathing in city smog and germs from contagious people in public areas. It has been said that adults breathe an average of more than 17,000 times per day. Choosing the proper facemask can provide one of our most effective modes of defense against harmful irritants. Surgical facemasks protect both the patient and the Dental Health Care Professional (DCHP) from various potential bloodborne and inhalation hazards. Choosing the correct facemask is extremely important as well as mask placement. Due to sprays, splashes, and splatter generated in dentistry, wearing a fluid-resistant mask helps protect the DHCP from mucosal contact with or inhaling these potentially infectious materials. Surgical masks are available with fluid-resistant outer layers and tissue inner layers or fluid-resistant outer and inner layers.
Wash your hands. Make sure to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you touch your surgical mask.
Follow the instructions on your particular brand of surgical mask. All brands specify not to use the mask if it has been previously worn or taken out of the packaging. You should wear a new mask every time.
Put on the surgical mask with clean hands. There should be a metal strip that will bend to fit around your nose—make sure this strip covers your nose, not your mouth. If the strip is covering your mouth, the mask is upside down.
Tie the elastic strings to hold the mask to your face. Be sure the strings are snug but not too uncomfortable. Once you have tied the strings, the mask should cover your mouth, nose, and chin.
Once you have adjusted the mask to your liking, wash your hands. Please do not touch the mask again until you need to remove it, but be sure to wash your hands before removing or touching the mask for any reason. Do not touch the outside of the mask; try to handle only the inside or the elastic strings. Rewash your hands after removing the mask.
To dispose of the mask, wrap it in a plastic bag and tie it securely. Wash your hands one final time after throwing away the surgical mask.