Dental Protection offers support if unable to wear a fit-tested mask

fit-testedDental Protection is still offering its membership and assistance if clinicians are unable to wear a fit-tested mask.

After the reopening of dental practices on 8 June, clinicians have raced to get fit-tested for correct-fitting PPE. Latest SOP guidance says primary dental care providers may carry out both AGP and non-AGP care with appropriate fitting PPE.

Dental Protection claims several dental professionals are raising concerns about their inability to wear fit-tested masks. It is looking to reassure members that their membership and ability to request assistance is not affected by their inability to wear fit-tested masks.

‘We know our members are facing a number of challenges related to the reopening of practices and resuming of face-to-face care,’ Raj Rattan, dental director at Dental Protection, says.

‘We would like to reassure members that their membership and ability to request assistance will not be affected by the inability to wear a fit-tested FFP2 or FFP3 mask.’

Failing fit-testing

Dental Protection highlights the primary purpose for PPE, and in particular RPE masks, is to protect dental professionals.

It recommends members identify overall risks to themselves, team members and patients where fit-testing has failed. In these cases Dental Protection says practices must ensure they take mitigating steps.

In many cases, legitimate reasons make it difficult for clinicians to wear a fit-tested mask. Dental Protection includes health, cultural and religious factors and the mask not forming an adequate seal as reasons where passing a fit-test is not possible.

‘The primary purpose of PPE and in particular RPE masks is for dentists’ own safety,’ Dr Rattan continues. ‘We recommend that employers identify the overall risk in all situations where the fit test has failed. And practices ensure they take steps to mitigate the risk.

‘These are challenging times. As a profession, we may not know what the future looks like. But I can assure you that Dental Protection will be there for our members.’

Can does not mean should

Meanwhile Nishma Sharma is calling on dental teams to offer treatment at their own pace as practices reopen.

Dr Sharma, who works for the OCDO, is urging practices not to succumb to pressure to open for in-person appointments if they feel underprepared or lack the appropriate PPE.

She reminds teams that the inability to offer these treatments from this date will not lead to penalties. Particularly as many are struggling to source the correct PPE.

‘The problem with the lack of PPE stems from high demand as we all try to access limited stocks,’ she said.

‘We are up against other healthcare providers and now the public. Face coverings are compulsory on public transport as well as when entering hospital and community services.

‘There has been a sudden surge over the last week as we all try to access the various PPE required. Before the release of guidance, it was difficult to know exactly what practices require for AGP/non-AGPs.

‘Many practice teams have donated various PPE to their local community nurses, hospitals, GP practices and hospices who require it during the peak of the pandemic.

‘We should highlight and congratulate these dental teams for the local heroes they are.’

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