Dental Face Mask – How To Wear & Use One

dental face mask critical dental australia

A dental face mask is a vital piece of equipment worn to protect dental professionals from the spread of airborne diseases, bacteria and splatter generated during the use of high-speed handpieces and scalers.

Reports generated as early as the 1960s detailed increases in upper-respiratory-tract infections in dentists, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that dental masks were regularly worn. Although today they are worn as standard personal protective equipment, a surprising number of them are still used incorrectly. In this post, we’re going to talk about how to correctly choose, wear and use a dental face mask, so as to avoid confusion.


Firstly, choosing a dental face mask

When you consider how many patients you come into contact with on a weekly basis, choosing the right face mask can be the difference between avoiding infectious or airborne diseases and transferring them to your team and other patients.

Most face masks are designed to cover the nose, mouth and chin for the right mix of comfort, protection and breathability and these are traits that most dental professionals would want in a protective mask. After that, making the right choice becomes a little more technical.

To make it easy, there are 3 levels of face mask, designed to provide a degree of progressive protection. So let’s highlight each level and their uses.


  • dental mask dental face mask critical dental australiaLevel 1 masks – Ideal for procedures where low amounts of spray, fluids or aerosols are produced.
  • Level 2 face masks – Perfect for procedures where light to moderate amounts of airborne debris and bacteria are expected.
  • Level 3 dental masks – Good for moderate to heavy amounts of fluid generated during treatments.


In essence, the higher the level, the higher the protection.

Typically, dentists should choose the face mask that equates to the level of protection they require. This may change throughout the day from patient to patient and case to case.

So now you know how to correctly choose a dental face mask, what’s the correct way to wear one?


How to put on a dental mask

Firstly, you want to ensure that the mask is contamination-free so always clean your hands with sanitiser before touching.

Next, quickly inspect the surgical mask to ensure there are no obvious tear holes

Then determine the top of the mask – This is usually dictated by a stiff bendable edge and is designed to mould to the shape of your nose.

In addition, you also want to determine the front of the mask – the coloured side is usually the front and should face away from you. The whiter side should be the side that touches your face.

Next, follow the instructions detailed below for the type of mask you’re using.

Dental mask with ear loops – Grasp the mask by the ear loops ensuring that it is both the right way round and the right side up, then simply place the loops around each ear to secure the mask.

Dental face mask with ties – Simply bring the mask to nose level, place the ties over the crown of your head and secure together with a bow.

Dental face masks with bands – Hold the mask in your hand – nosepiece uppermost. Then bring the mask to nose level, pulling the top strap over the head so that it rests on the crown. Finally, pull the bottom strap over your head allowing it to rest on the nape of the neck.

Once your mask is secure, mould or pinch the stiff edge to cover the contours of your nose and finally, adjust slightly until it covers your nose mouth and chin.

Ideally, protective dental masks should be changed between patients when they become wet from splashes or breath, or indeed every 20 minutes during highly aerosolised procedures. So with this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the mask removal process…


How to correctly remove a dental face mask

Firstly, once treatment has finished, ensure your hands are cleaned and sanitised before touching the mask. Then, touching only the ear loops, ties or bands (always avoid coming into direct contact with the front of the mask) follow the instructions below for the type of mask used.

Earloops – Gently pull both ear loops away from the ears and lift to remove the mask.

Ties – Always untie the bottom bow first, then remove the top bow pulling the mask away from the face.

Bands – Lift the bottom strap over your head first, then repeat the process with the top strap, again pulling the mask away from the face.

Once the mask is removed, dispose of it using the normal channels. Finally, re-wash or re-sanitise hands once more.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about selecting, using and removing dental face masks!


As one of the leading suppliers of dental equipment in Australia, Critical Dental offers a wide range of quality dental masks for you to choose. Why not download our catalogue today and check out our great deals.

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