Face Shields Could Offer Improved Protection Over Masks

Face Shields Could Offer Improved Protection Over Masks

Until recently, visiting an emergency dentist in Louisville was the only option patients needing dental care had at their disposal. But as Colorado moves to reopen along with the rest of the country, dental care joins a number of other services that offer people a reason to leave their homes.

As most of us venturing outside have noticed, wearing a face mask has become the new normal. Despite some early confusion and mixed messaging by health care officials, it now seems like the use of face masks while out in public is the consensus recommended course of action for reducing our chance of spreading the coronavirus.

Adjusting to life in pandemic means accepting that things can and will change, sometimes very quickly. Just as many of us have started to become accustomed to wearing face masks, health experts have started advocating for the use of face shields instead.

The Benefits of Protection

Early on, when coronavirus infections were first beginning to impact the lives of most Americans, health officials cautioned that wearing a mask while out in public would provide very little protection from the virus. However, as health official began to better understand how the virus spreads and how many people may carry the virus without developing any symptoms (researchers estimate that up to 35 percent of those infected are asymptomatic) the use of face masks in public started to make far more sense.

The purpose of wearing a face mask in public is simple. The coronavirus spreads through what’s referred to as respiratory droplets, small particles emitted through the nose and mouth. Since people can contract the virus without developing any symptoms, wearing a face mask out in public effectively prevents you from spreading any respiratory droplets. If everybody wears a mask while in doctors’ offices, grocery stores, and pharmacies, the number of potential infections becomes lower.

Wearing a face mask also offers a bit of practical protection as well. To become infected with the coronavirus, patients must receive contact from contaminated droplets through their eyes, nose, or mouth. When wearing a face mask, you become far less likely to touch your nose or your mouth, thereby reducing your risk of spreading any contact with the contagion to these vulnerable areas.

While face masks offer a number of advantages, they also possess some significant disadvantages that could make switching to wearing a facial shield all that more enticing.

Benefits of Wearing a Face Shield

To doctors, nurses, and even an emergency dentist in Aloha, face shields are often standard protective equipment. For the general public, face shields seem to offer a number of advantages over face masks that could make them a better fit for most people, no pun intended.

Face shields are easier to wear correctly and, since they also cover the user’s eyes, provide superior protection. A recent report published in Journal of the American Medical Association argued that face shields offer improved protection than standard masks when used with increased testing, social distancing, and contact tracing of infected individuals.

What makes a face shields a superior alternative to a face mask, argues the report, is that too many people wear masks that don’t properly fit, so they don’t perform the necessary function of preventing the spread of respiratory droplets. Additionally, having to repeatedly pull up a mask that doesn’t fit means wearers are more likely to repeatedly touch their faces, increasing their risk for infection. Wearing a face masks can also be problematic for individuals with asthma.

Conversely, face shields simply slip over the head of the wearer, making fit less of an issue. The clear plastic of shields won’t hide the user’s face, improving communication as others can read facial expressions and lips. Shields have also been found to be incredibly effective at blocking droplets. One cough simulation study in 2014 found that a shield may reduce exposure by 96 percent when worn within 18 inches of the mouth.

 

As we all continue to adapt to living through a pandemic, we must keep finding new ways of lowering your risk for contracting the virus. Through social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing the most effective form of face covering, we can all do our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. After all, we don’t want to go back under quarantine where we can only leave the house to see an emergency dentist in Louisville or to buy food at the grocery store.

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