Use of masks: infection control compliance

Posted on 4th February 2020

The ADA is aware that there may be some misinformation on social media platforms regarding the use of disposable masks during dental procedures. Single-use disposable masks are recommended during treatment as part of standard precautions in a dental practice. Wearing these masks for long periods of time are not recommended. The filtration abilities of a mask begin to decline with moisture on the inner and outer surfaces of the mask after approximately 20 mins.  This is why the masks are single-use only. Re-use puts practitioners at risk of airborne aerosols and a number of potential diseases which can be transmitted via the airborne route.

Dentists are reminded of their regulatory requirement to practise in accordance with acceptable infection control and prevention standards. This responsibility rests with the practitioner, not the organisation for whom the practitioner works. Dentists are referred to page 8 of the ADA Guidelines for Infection Control for information regarding the use of masks.

Dental procedures can generate large quantities of aerosols so practitioners should be using disposable masks with level 2 splash protection for procedures that generate splash and aerosol, as per current guidelines. There are no alternatives to wearing level 2 masks. Face shields and cloth masks do not provide adequate filtration.

The ADA has confirmed today that level 2 masks remain available through a number of dental suppliers but supply in any single order may be limited to ensure there is equal distribution to all practices.

If a dental practice is unable to retain adequate supplies to ensure infection control standards are maintained, the practice should consider cancelling patients until such time as adequate stocks are available.

If you are having difficulty obtaining supplies of masks please let the ADA office know on contact@ada.org.au so that we can try and work with suppliers and government to maintain stocks to prevent the closure of any practice. You can also contact us for general work health and safety advice and if you require specific HR support for both employees and employers please contact your ADA (Members only) HR Service on 1300 232 462 or hrhotline@ada.org.au