Dentist discovers the best powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) system to protect staff and patients during COVID and beyond.
The Client: Logical Dentistry, Richard Grundy, D.D.S.
A few years ago, Dr. Richard Grundy, D.D.S., read an article about a cluster of nine dental professionals in his home state of Virginia developing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) over 15 years. IFP is an incurable lung disease. Seven of the nine professionals eventually succumbed to the disease. While there is a correlation between lung disease and occupational exposures, no prior link exists between IFP and dental professionals.
For the past two decades, Dr. Grundy practiced dentistry with standard personal protection equipment—a standard face mask and gloves. When he began researching PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators), he was struck by how cumbersome they appeared. Though he didn’t rule them out, his practice was busy, and he decided to table the idea until he could dedicate more time to it. Then the pandemic hit.
While Covid-19 was the catalyst for change, Dr. Grundy continues to use the PAPRs post-pandemic, incorporating them as standard office protocol. Though the quest to find a powerful PAPR that didn’t sacrifice comfort or impede communication between the staff and patients hasn’t been easy, the investment has paid off in dividends.
Challenge: Choosing a PAPR for all-day wear
Dr. Grundy spent a few months testing PAPR systems from multiple manufacturers. He quickly realized that finding a PAPR suitable for all-day wear wasn’t going to be easy. The first brand he tried, often considered the leader in worker safety products, was too heavy. Not long into the day, his back began to ache from the weight of the blower unit. Further frustrating the matter, the headgear proved flimsy and required constant readjusting, reducing productivity.
We work long days. There’s no way we could sustain the weight of a heavy PAPR system for 8-12 hours a day. We needed lightweight respiratory protection and a comfortable helmet with a large visual field. I had the added requirement of fitting my surgical loupes under the hood and being able to see clearly without them fogging up. – Dr. Grundy
Solution: Powerful respiratory protection, all-day comfort
Dr. Grundy needed a solution that would provide powerful breathing protection without compromising safety, comfort or productivity. So he reached out to Optrel to determine the best way to move forward. The solution: the Optrel e3000x PAPR system with softhood.
The e3000x PAPR system is the most powerful ventilated breathing system on the market. Equipped with a TH3 HEPA filter, the NIOSH-approved e3000x PAPR system, paired with the softhood, filters out 99.8% of smoke, aerosols, dust, viruses, and other toxins. Dr. Grundy soon realized that the e3000x is lightweight and comfortable enough for all-day use. In addition, the softhood’s wide panoramic visor provides ample room for his surgical loupes, an anti-fog coating and most importantly, an unrestricted view of his patients.
Result: Enhanced Safety, Productivity and Patient Satisfaction
It wasn’t long before Dr. Grundy realized how effective the e3000x PAPR was in safeguarding staff and patients. As an added and unexpected bonus, the PAPRs led to increased productivity and satisfaction within the team. Incorporating a new respiratory protection program proved more manageable and beneficial to Logical Dentistry than Dr. Grundy expected.
In dentistry, we’re exposed to debris—fine particles, blood, saliva—and the use of aerosols increases the risk of transmission. Before Covid-19, we wore high-quality face masks. It wasn’t until we tried the softhood that we realized how much debris was collecting on our skin and hair. The staff is so glad they’re fully protected. – Dr. Grundy
As the world evolves post-Covid and many dentists revert to pre-pandemic PPE, Dr. Grundy’s commitment to patient and staff safety and satisfaction remains steadfast. Replacing standard PPE with PAPR systems and softhoods has proved transformational for his practice. The staff is happier, the patient experience has improved, and the practice is thriving. Furthermore, Dr. Grundy’s investment in health and safety ensures Logical Dentistry is strategically resilient for whatever the future brings.
How To Choose the Best PAPR for Your Work Environment
A Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) is a type of respirator used to safeguard healthcare and industrial workers against contaminated air, harmful airborne particles, dust, fumes and aerosols. PAPRs come in two types: half-mask and full-face. The main difference is that half-mask PAPRs cover the nose and mouth area, while full-face PAPRs cover the nose, mouth and eyes.
When paired with an Optrel hood, the NIOSH-approved e3000x offers the highest level of protection from smoke, aerosols and dust. It is 99.99% efficient against particle sizes down to .3 micron, making the breathable air 500 times cleaner. As the particles become larger the filter becomes even more efficient.
While the Covid-19 virus is .1 micron in size, in order to spread it bonds with something larger, namely water droplets and aerosols. Linsey Marr, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, who specializes in the airborne transmission of viruses, states: “There is never a naked virus floating in the air or released by people.” When the virus attaches to water, mucus protein and other biological material, it gets larger in size, making the e3000x with a softhood an excellent choice. The optrel e3000x can be paired with the following hoods:
- Any optrel Softhood
- Clearmaxx PAPR
- Crystal 2.0 PAPR
- e684 PAPR
- Panoramaxx 2.5 PAPR
- Panoramaxx CLT PAPR (Black)
- Panoramaxx CLT PAPR (Silver)
- Panoramaxx Quattro PAPR
- Vegaview 2.5 PAPR
Optrel also offers the Swiss Air PAPR that features a half mask and can be combined with an Optrel helmet, an existing hood, or no helmet at all.