Georgia dentist designs 3D printing template to help face mask shortage

Coronavirus

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – With face masks running low around the country the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allowed medical professionals to use homemade masks when no face masks are available, but instead of using bandannas or scarves dentists around the state are coming up with something creative.

Dental services around Georgia are working together to increase the supply of masks as the demand goes up and they say a 3D printed mask can make for an effective back-up.

The Georgia dental community is trying to help healthcare providers who are dealing with mask shortages. Dr. Mark Causey, a dentist out of Atlanta has a 3D capable orthodontist office that can produce masks similar to N-95’s.

“There have been nurses in OR’s that have written my staff messages saying they were crying because they weren’t being given the proper equipment in certain instances,” Causey said.

Dr. Causey designed a website, Fired by Corona, that’s where the design can be downloaded. It’s seen more than 2,000 downloads since being uploaded. A seal is added to the finished molds that holds tightly allowing contamination to stay out. Two local dentists are supporting the effort so far.

Dr. Miles Yarbrough with Miller Dental Group and Dr. Ryan Fulchi with Habersham Dental are leading the efforts here in Savannah after their offices were closed due to COVID-19. Miller Dental Group is providing 3D printing services and fitting any physicians who would like a mask. Each mask will take 2-3 hours to make.

“We’re currently using HEPA filtration which you can pull out of some HEPA certified filters that are sold at local hardware stores. So what we’re trying to do is a simple solution to help tackle on a large scale problem,” Dr. Ryan Fulchi with Habersham Dental said.

The masks are not FDA approved and would have to be OKed by local hospitals for their physicians to use. They will not replace the traditional mask. The team of dentists has started doing fit tests at local hospitals here in Savannah.

“We’d recommend using provided regulatory masks when available but we anticipate them to not be available,” Fulchi said.

While preparing for other alternatives they’re asking for anyone’s help who can help print the mask molds.

“We’re calling on the community to do the prints and maybe take them to their local dentist or have them reach out to see where they can donate them and the dentist actually coming together to form that seal for the healthcare providers,” Causey said.

Healthcare providers said that they’ll continue to print the masks until the FDA approved face masks in the hospitals run out.

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