Edmond dentist aiming to help make respirators during PPE shortage

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EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – The coronavirus pandemic is causing a huge shortage of personal protective gear at hospitals all across the state. 

Many businesses are stepping up in unique ways to help make masks for health care workers. 

Dr. James Peck is a dentist at RedBud Dental in Edmond. 

They can’t take non-emergency patients right now, so he and his staff are using their time to make respirators. 

“Our job every day is helping people,” said Office Manager Briana Saunders. 

Even though their every day looks a little different in this dental office, their will to help others hasn’t. 

“I’m working on creating makeshift respirators using a 3-D printers, and commonly available filtration materials to replace the missing PPE that a lot of hospitals are running into,” said Peck. 

Peck got the idea online, and shifted it to use materials he has. 

The plastic part of the masks is made with his 3-D printer.

Depending on the printer, it could take three to four hours, and the printer is usually used to make molds of teeth. 

He then brings in the health care worker into the office for a 20-minute fitting, and adds the dental impression material. 

“It creates a great seal, but it’s rather labor intensive and requires either a dentist or dental assistant to do it,” said Peck. 

A second model he’s working on uses weather stripping from a hardware store. 

He also ordered an FDA-approved material to start using within the next couple of days. 

He finishes the masks off by adding straps and some sort of cover. 

In some cases, he uses a Shop-Vac filter. 

“They have not been validated by the FDA but they’re most certainly better than nothing,” said Peck. “It can be washed at the end of the shift and then dry heat sterilized in an oven and reused.”

The staff at Redbud Dental are giving health care workers the respirators for free, but are taking donations from the public.

The mask is something Peck says would normally costs upwards of $150. 

“We want to do something in our time to be able to help others,” said Saunders. 

“I feel very blessed that myself and my team members can find a way to put to use the resources we have now to help those who are out on the front lines,” added Peck.  

Peck is working on different models, using different materials, that might not require health care workers to come in for a fitting. 

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