Aim: The impact on physiological parameters and wellbeing from potential respiratory distress caused by FFP3 masks, particularly during extensive clinical sessions, has been widely speculated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aims to investigate the effect of FFP3 mask wear on clinicians’ pulse rate and oxygen saturation. Material and Methods: Clinical staff within the Oral Surgery department recorded their oxygen saturation (SpO2) and pulse rate prior to donning an FFP3 mask, prior to doffing FFP3 mask and after doffing FFP3 mask using a finger pulse oximeter during a two-week period in May-June 2020. The duration of wear, the session (AM/PM), brand of mask and the presence of previous COVID-19 symptoms were also recorded. Results: Twenty-eight data sets were collected from twelve participants (1M:11F). Of the FFP3 masks worn, nineteen (67.86%) were ARCOÔ, eight (28.57%) were 3MÔ masks and one (3.57%) was 3M+Ô. At baseline, the mean SpO2 was 98.39% and mean pulse rate was 72.11. Prior to mask removal, the mean SpO2 was 97.82% and mean pulse rate was 70.04. The end of session mean SpO2 was 98.14% and mean pulse rate was 69.54. The mean duration of wear was 150.34 minutes. Data sets were collected evenly across AM (14) and PM (14) sessions. Five participants (17.86%) reported previous COVID-19 symptoms. Conclusion: The data demonstrated a mean reduction of 0.25% in oxygen saturation and 3.56% in pulse rate, following use of an FFP3 mask. These changes in physiological parameters are not clinically significant and sessional use appears to be safe.


© 2021 British Association of Oral Surgeons and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Cite as

Rehman, I., Ali, S., O'Brien, C. & Goodall, C. 2021, 'Assessing the impact of FFP3 masks to oxygen saturation and pulse rate in the Oral Surgery department at the Glasgow Dental Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic: an observational study', Oral Surgery. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ors.12648

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Last updated: 03 September 2022
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