We know that wearing a good N95 respirator is a great way to significantly reduce risk of catching airborne viruses like SARS CoV2 / COVID. However, some situations necessitate mask removal for care. How can we reduce our risk at the dentist or orthodontist?
Clean Indoor Air Protections
A patchwork of policies across states and individual offices make it difficult to predict what kind of air quality controls will be available at your provider’s office. It will be necessary to ask what clean air protections are in place to get an idea of what they are doing, since many indoor air quality measures are not readily visible without measurement tools.
Measure ventilation with a CO2 monitor
How much fresh air comes into the provider’s office? It can be hard to say, even if you see open windows. A great way to check for good ventilation is using an NDIR type CO2 monitor. This device will sense the parts per million of exhaled carbon dioxide gas in the space, and since the virus is carried and hangs in the are like smoke from these exhalations, we can use CO2 as a proxy for ventilation and COVID risk. More about CO2 monitors.
If your care provider does not have clean air protections, or you just want to add another layer, you might consider bringing your own portable HEPA filter in for your appointment. The Levoit Core 200 (CADR 98 cfm), Levoit Core 300 (CADR 126 cfm), or Puridoc (CADR 105 cfm) portable HEPA filters are light weight and small enough to carry in a larger backpack, like the 30L style backpacks. You’ll need to plug in at the office. #BYOHEPA benefits include cleaner air during your medical visit, and also an opportunity to discuss the benefits of cleaning the air with your provider.
Dental mask hack
Lisa @findmeabluebird has a dental mask hack that uses the adhesive strapless n95 mask, Readimask, to filter the air coming into your nose, so that at least nasal inhalations can be filtered while work is being done on your teeth.
You can request that staff wear an N95 respirator mask for your protection during your appointment. Your provider may or may not provide this protection. One option is to request a willing provider at the time you make the appointment, if for example several hygienists may be available and some are more ready to accommodate than others.
Try to book medical appointments in the earliest time slot of the day. This reduces the chances that an infected person has been in the space allowing aerosolized virus to build up in the air before your visit.