Along with social distancing and handwashing, wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most important things you and your family can do. But, as with most things, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it! Since dentists and their staff wear personal protective equipment every day to protect themselves and their patients from infectious disease, they’re in a great position to explain how to wear face masks so that they’re as effective as possible. Learn more below!
Why Is Wearing a Face Mask So Important?
Bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19, are easily spread through airborne droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. If these tiny droplets come into contact with someone’s nose or mouth, they can be inhaled into the lungs and cause infection. This is why your family dentist always puts on a new face mask prior to each procedure.
Researchers have found that these respiratory droplets typically travel about six feet (although they can travel further when someone sneezes or forcefully coughs). While face masks or face coverings aren’t 100% effective at filtering the COVID-19 virus, they do provide an extra layer of protection and slow the spread of the disease.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing a Face Mask
Everyone over age 2 should wear a face mask anytime social distancing guidelines are hard to follow such as grocery stores, public transportation, etc. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts to make your mask more protective:
- Wash your hands before putting your face mask on. If that’s not possible, use hand sanitizer.
- Check for holes, tears, or other damage and discard the mask if necessary.
- Hold the mask by the ear loops, with the colored side of the mask facing outward, and place them over both ears. If your mask has ties, tie the upper strings in a bow near the crown of your head. Then tie the lower strings closer to the nape of your neck.
- If your mask has a metallic strip over the nose, be sure to pinch it so that it’s snug against the bridge of your nose. Your goal is to eliminate gaps as much as possible around the edges of the mask.
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
- Don’t touch the mask after it’s in place.
- Don’t wear a soiled or damp mask because it will be less able to filter viruses and bacteria.
- Don’t dangle the mask from one ear or allow it to hang around your neck.
- Don’t reuse single-use masks.
Right now, it’s important to do everything you can to lower you and your family’s risk of getting COVID-19. With these simple guidelines, you can be confident that precautions like wearing a face mask are effective!
About the Author
As a family dentist, Dr. Robert Long is dedicated to helping his patients, staff, and their families stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to putting in-office hygiene and sanitation protocols in place, he’s happy to provide tips for infection control in his patients’ everyday lives as well. If you’d like to know more about how to wear a face mask or have any questions, he can be reached via his website.