With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, industries nationwide changed their day-to-day production into innovative ways that they could contribute to stopping the spread of the virus. Included in this movement is a crack team at the LSU Health School of Dentistry lead by Interim Dean Robert Laughlin, DDS, MD and Karen Bruggers, DDS, MS, Chair of the Department of Prosthodontics.
Guided by his compassion for COVID-19 front-line healthcare workers, 14 of whom are LSU School of Dentistry residents, Dr. Robert Laughlin collaborated with Dr. Karen Bruggers to produce a reusable and easy-to-clean N95 mask. The team created the crucial PPE using the school’s innovative 3-D printer. The masks are made of a complex polymer and a filter that when applied prevents the transmission of 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. The team is also able to print reusable visors of the same polymers that are easily disinfected and provide a barrier against aerosol and respiratory droplets.
While the School of Dentistry knows how to print the much needed PPE, production is limited by time constraints. “They have converted the 3D printers that are normally used to print models, surgical guides, splints, and dentures to making PPE,” said Dr. Bruggers. “They are producing as fast as they can, and we are happy to get them where they are needed.” Additional funding would help purchase better technology for faster turn around.