Dentists unable to continue wearing a respirator mask in the long term

Four in five dentists cannot tolerate wearing an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator mask on a long-term basis, research revealsFour in five dentists cannot tolerate wearing an FFP2 or FFP3 respirator mask on a long-term basis, research reveals. 

This is according to a new survey carried out by the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD).

As a result, it is calling for a change to respirator mask requirements in dentistry.

The group penned an open letter to Public Health England (PHE) regarding the ‘overly onerous’ PPE that dental teams are required to wear.

It argues that current requirements combined with access troubles mean many practices are unable to offer anything other than basic treatments.

In a recent survey of its members, only around 8% reported being able to communicate effectively with patients when wearing full PPE.

Currently, the standard operating procedure states that all members of the dental team carrying out AGPs have to wear an FFP3 respirator or equivalent. This is alongside a fluid-repellant gown, gloves, and eye and face protection.

In comparison, 65% said they were unable to communicate with their patients when wearing full PPE.

Unworkable and unnecessary

Other findings include:

  • 22% reported that they had failed a fit test
  • 1.8% reported a ‘normal’ communication ability when wearing full PPE, with 75% saying it was ‘reduced’ or ‘markedly reduced’. And 22% said they cannot communicate effectively
  • 45% said they cannot breathe effectively when wearing an AGP-appropriate mask
  • 80% said they cannot tolerate wearing FFP3 or FFP2 masks in the long term (six months)
  • Around 12% said the science available justifies the use of FFP3/FFP2 masks for AGPs. And 58% said it does not justify their use while 29% said they need more information.

The group points out that COVID-19 is no longer classed as a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) by both the PHE and the Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP). As a result, it is asking PHE to change the ‘present unworkable and unnecessary high-level PPE guidance’.

The letter states: ‘We feel that a much more appropriate and pragmatic baseline PPE requirement for both AGP and non-AGP procedures to be a FRSM with full-face visor, disposable non-latex gloves and appropriate short-sleeved washable sessional clinical scrubs.’

Fallow period reduction

This follows another open letter urging PHE to lower the currently required 60-minute fallow period.

The BAPD cites England as a ‘notable outlier’ when compared to countries of similar population densities and infection numbers.

For example, a fallow period is not required in Spain, Ireland or Belgium. This is despite all three having a higher number of cases per million when compared to the UK.

A copy of the letter can be read here. 

Follow Dentistry Online on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar