With the spread of COVID-19, and the dramatic effect this virus has had on the dental and medical community, PPE (personal protective equipment) has become an essential part of everyday life. You cannot practice dental or medical procedures without using adequate PPE.
Face Shield systems have become a necessity to protect both the patient and practitioner. But not all Face Shield systems are created equal. What should you be looking for in a Face Shield system?
What is most important in a face-shield system?
It is important to keep in mind, that anything you wear, that must fit securely around your head, needs to provide all-day comfort. It is so easy to get distracted by other benefits and features of a Face Shield system, and overlook how important comfort is.
As an example, we have all selected sunglass frames in the past, for all the wrong reasons: designer names, sporty looking design, cool colored lenses, etc., only to discover how uncomfortable they are to wear for any length of time. The same is true for a Face Shield system. The most uncomfortable part of the face shield system is usually the part that secures the face shield to your head and by extension, covers your face. If this “headband” portion is made from a hard, plastic material, or has rough edges or pointed ends, you could experience discomfort within minutes of putting it on. If the plastic keeps slipping against the net you are wearing on your hair, not only does this cause discomfort, but is also dangerous for potential spread of the virus, if you are having to use your gloved hands to continually adjust the plastic headband. You should be looking for a soft, comfortable headband design that is adjustable. One that can be disinfected between patients. There should be no hard parts that touch your head, and the material of the headband should not be slippery.
A Face Shield system should cover your entire face and extend back behind your ears. The face shield itself, should be long enough to come below your chin. There should be a curved design of the face shield at the bottom, so when worn, the face shield should provide almost a semi-circle, to enclose your entire face and cover your ears. Given the curved design of the face shield, there will be a natural gap at the top of the face shield that extends beyond the headband. There should be a molded piece of material that can be disinfected, that should fill in and close that gap, so no aerosol can drop down from above and land on your face.
Although a face shield system should always be worn in conjunction with a face mask, you need to protect your entire face, eyes and ears from as much aerosol as possible, which is the function of the face shield system. When you put on a face shield system, check any and all exposed parts of your face and head. A good face shield system should cover those exposed parts to provide maximum protection.
It is very important to have a high level of clarity when looking through the face shield. Given the curved nature of the face shield, distortion can occur, making it difficult to see clearly through the shield. This is especially true if you are wearing surgical loupes under the face shield. If the image you are seeing is distorted and/or blurry, it makes it difficult to perform procedures with accuracy. Many lower end, disposable face shields use thin, plastic for their face shields. This can cause significant distortion as well as eye strain for the wearer. The material used in the face shield is very important and should not be overlooked.
A material that performs very well for a face shield is PET-G. This is a Thermoplastic, polyester resin (synthetic rubber) and provides significant chemical resistance, durability and exceptional clarity. As a bonus, it is also 100% recyclable. It can be used and reused multiple times. And, can be disinfected between patients using just a standard 70% alcohol solution.
This depends on the design of the face shield system. There are many disposable, one-use only, medical grade face shields that are used in hospital settings for support staff, that do not need to accommodate surgical loupes. If you wear loupes, however, you need to be sure there is enough space under the face shield to provide clearance for your barrels (optics). You do not want your barrels to bump up against the face shield.
You also need to be sure when looking through your loupes (and then through the face shield) that there is no distortion. If you wear prism loupes, which are longer barrels, that there is sufficient clearance under the face shield. You also will not be able to flip up your loupes, if you have a flip up design. And depending on the hinge for your flip up loupes, be sure there is enough clearance under the shield when you position the barrels in the correct viewing angle.
There are differing views on the efficacy of wearing your headlight under your face shield. Most practitioners use portable LED headlights. LED’s can get warm during use. This can be an issue if the LED is under a face shield. There is very little air flow to dissipate the heat. There is also the issue of reflection. You may get light reflection off the inside of the face shield which can interfere with the image, as viewed through the loupes. This is a personal choice. Just be sure there will be enough clearance under your face shield for both your loupe and headlight.
And also, be sure the gap at the top of the face shield is filled in, so no aerosol can fall through the top of the face shield system. Our SV- Face Shield system allows you to attach virtually any brand of headlight either in front or behind the shield.
This depends on the style of the face shield system. Most practitioners that use loupes and headlights are looking for reusable face shield systems. Ones that can be disinfected and worn with multiple patients.
If a manufacturer tells you their face shield is reusable, be sure and ask what that means? How many times can it be reused before it is no longer protective? You will need to disinfect it continually. How well with the face shield system stand up to this kind of treatment? Are the parts replaceable, or do you need to purchase a new system. What accessories are available?
Do your homework! This portion of your PPE needs to be comfortable, protective and effective.
7. Where can I get more information on SheerVision's face-shields?
For more information on the SheerVision SV Face-Shield system for dentists, dental hygienists, surgeons, doctors, nurses and many other frontline health care providers please click here: