A surgical face mask, also called a dental face mask, is designed to be worn by medical staff during dental surgery. Surgery occurs in a sterile environment, but sometimes this is not possible due to patient confidentiality, hygienic conditions at the hospital or lack of equipment to maintain sterility. Dental surgery can lead to serious infection if precautions are not taken. Surgical masks designed to prevent infection are worn by dental staff during these operations.
Infections can occur when a surgical face mask is worn in the wrong place or is used too often. The use of antibiotics or anti-bacterial agents can reduce infection risk, but prolonged or wearing of such products may result in a build-up of bacteria, leaving the wearer unable to breathe comfortably. Dental staff are required by law to ensure that all their staff follow good hygiene practice when it comes to equipment and procedures to avoid such problems.
There are two types of face coverings available to medical staff. The first is the standard face mask; these are made from fabric, usually supplied from the manufacturer, and have holes in the mouthpiece to allow air flow. Whilst they are easy to use, they are restrictive for the wearer and therefore may restrict breathing. The second type of face coverings is more suitable for wearing while playing sports or going swimming. These come with Velcro strips which can easily be attached to the face and over the nose and mouth. They offer greater flexibility and mobility and allow the wearer to breathe freely.
There are also face masks which are disposable. These are made of cloth and often have a rubberized coating to add further durability and hygiene. The two layers of fabric are designed to mould around the contours of the wearer, creating a custom fit. They come in a wide variety of sizes to fit most people, although larger than normal masks will require extra fittings. Most disposable masks come with an automatic dispenser, which means they can be changed as often as required without having to get up and change them yourself.
A face mask can be worn either above or below the nose, depending on which is most comfortable for the wearer. A popular style is the nasal strip. These have a strip of fabric sewn across the nose, enabling airflow to enter the nose. There are also disposable versions of face masks which feature droplets of airpurifying fluid attached to the outside. These have been designed to sit above the eye, to capture any dust particles and prevent them entering the eye which could cause discomfort.
It is important to note that in addition to the fabric used to manufacture the mask, different thicknesses of plastic or metal may be used to create the effect. The traditional two layers method of construction is favored as it provides the most flexibility. The other layers may be added to, or even replaced, to create a completely new look and feel for your skin. Face masks may be made from many different materials, each offering a unique combination of features to meet the unique needs of the wearer.