Recently, I had an early morning flight on Southwest. I know they like to keep their planes frigid on the inside, and I almost always wish I had a sweatshirt or a jacket. Anticipating this, I brought a nice, soft, broken-in lululemon hoodie. As we got up in the air and the ambient temperature got cooler, I decided to throw on the hoodie. In the pouch of the jacket, which I probably had not worn in at least a year or two, was a crumpled-up old paper surgical mask. I knew immediately this was from the COVID days of wearing masks everywhere.
I was immediately flooded with the memories of that entire ordeal and how intrusive the pandemic was on our way of life. I thought of masking in the grocery store and on flights. I also thought of the panic of trying to find masks and respirators for my team during March and April of 2020. We all went through that. We all bought thousands of dollars of N95s and thousands of dollars of KN95s when we couldn’t find N95s. Last year we threw away thousands of those respirators. As the pandemic wound down, my team did not want to wear respirators anymore. They wanted to go back to level-three masks. It felt like watching my hard-earned production money get flushed down the toilet.
At this stage of things, I do think that it is time to reevaluate our fundamentals and go back to what has worked for us for decades, and in my practice that has been level-three masks. They are obtainable, comfortable, and affordable. Our choice, after some research, was the Crosstex Surgical Masks with Secure Fit Technology. The team has been thrilled with these, both from a comfort and protection standpoint.
Secure Fit technology features a contourable aluminum nose strip as well as a chin strip. This significantly reduces gapping at the top, bottom, and sides of the mask. This technology comes in three levels of protection, but we use level three exclusively. They are form-fitting and comfortable while providing maximum protection. After a couple of years of wearing N95 respirators, the comfort of these masks is a welcome break.
They also come in a super cool black color, which matches the esthetic of our office. The black is actually on both sides of the mask, so it doesn’t show makeup on the inside of the mask. These masks are available at most dental supply houses and are much more affordable than the N95s we bought for two years. If you’re looking for a comfortable but safe level-three alternative to N95s, Crosstex Surgical Masks with Secure Fit Technology by HuFriedyGroup are an easy choice.
Editor's note: This article appeared in the October 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.