By Robert Shorey, DDS
Covid-19 has pushed our society back on its heels and everyone has been affected. Gaining knowledge about the virus is an ongoing work in progress that some of our most knowledgeable minds are working to attain. Much of the initial advice given has been found to be questionable or incorrect, so let’s rely on sound, fundamental science that we know to be true.
I’ve been in dentistry long enough to say unequivocally that hand washing and mask wearing have an absolute benefit to maintaining respiratory health and prevention of disease spread. For me, this is not a political or freedom of choice issue. Not wearing a mask is an issue of ignoring a highly effective method of preventing the spread of contagious diseases like Covid-19.
Proper mask wearing allows people to circulate in public and safely access necessary services while minimizing the potential for spread. Education of the public concerning proper mask etiquette is desperately needed to produce an effective result. It is not about freedom of expression; it is no different than our laws that stopped smoking in public places to protect the airways of others.
Wearing a mask protects your airway and the airway of other people in the community. Improper mask wearing may be worse than not wearing a mask at all. When a person wears a mask below their nose, if they have the virus they are only concentrating the virus on the outside of their mask. That same person will then touch and adjust their mask and then other surfaces such as a cash register, gas pump or door knob and put the virus on those surfaces.
Further, if they touch something that is contaminated, they’ll deposit the virus back on their mask where they will sniff it into their respiratory system.
Dangling a mask off of one ear or under your chin will spread the virus around your face and hands every time you adjust it and move it.
Not wearing a mask properly is like double dipping your chip at a party. Double dipping is not cool and neither is wearing a mask improperly.
To use a mask effectively, it is necessary to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Keeping hands clean when handling a mask before, during and after placement is vital to preventing viral spread. Before and after you place, touch or adjust the mask, you must sanitize your hands.
If you plan to reuse a mask, launder it in detergent frequently or hang it outside in direct summer sunlight for several hours to neutralize the Covid-19 virus. Always use clean hands to take your mask off by the strings or straps and place it into a paper bag, leaving the straps hanging out of the bag—not in your pocket or purse, when not in use.
With proper mask usage following these techniques we can help one another not become a statistic!
Robert Shorey, DDS, is a dentist whose practice, Shorey Dentistry, is located in Morgan Hill. He is also a member of the Santa Clara County Dental Society’s Covid-19 Task Force.