Custom-made masks offered free to 1st responders, front-line medical providers

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Orthodontist Dr. Brian Bragassa wears one of the protective masks he fashions for local first responders and front-line medical personnel. Photo/Submitted.
Orthodontist Dr. Brian Bragassa wears one of the protective masks he fashions for local first responders and front-line medical personnel. Photo/Submitted.

A Peachtree City orthodontist during the COVID-19 pandemic is assisting with the demand for masks by fabricating N95-equivalent masks free of charge for healthcare providers and first responders.

Though his practice is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Peachtree City Orthodontics owner Brian Bragassa said he was inspired by a Cumming orthodontist who has taken up the cause. Bragassa said teachers at some of Fayette County’s schools are assisting in the effort.

“I am fabricating N95-equivalent masks to be used by medical professionals as well as first responders in the case of a critical personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage. The 3D printed frameworks are being fabricated by the Fayette County Board of Education Career and Technical Education engineering teachers at some of our middle and high schools using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as well as polylactide (PLA) which is a thermoplastic polyester material,” Bragassa explained.

Braggasa said once the mask frameworks are made, he completes the mask assembly by attaching the HEPA filter, elastic straps as well as the custom seal using polyvinylsiloxane (PVS).

“Aside from the HEPA filter, the PVS seal is most important to ensure comfort of the masks as well as function. Dentists have extensive training and experience using PVS to create seals for dental appliances like dentures,” said Bragassa. “Once fabrication is complete, you have a customized N95-equivalent mask which can used multiple times. The framework can be disinfected and a new HEPA filter can be installed after each encounter.”

Bragassa noted that the masks he is making are not NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety) or FDA-approved.

“This type of mask has not been tested for effectiveness or safety. Respirators or masks can make it difficult to breath due to carbon dioxide build-up and can be dangerous and could even lead to death. People with chronic respiratory, cardiac or other medical conditions should not use them,” he said.

Bragassa said he is not anticipating local hospitals, or police/fire departments, to sanction the use of our masks instead of an FDA-approved N95 mask.

“But this mask is certainly better than a bandanna or scarf which some medical professionals have resorted to during times of scarce PPE,” said Bragassa.

Bragassa reiterated that the masks are being made on an individual basis for first responders and medical professionals upon request.

“All materials required for 3D printing the mask frameworks as well as the custom facial seal have been donated by Peachtree City Orthodontics as well as Rob Sieple, who represents Patterson Dental Supply. I am also making myself available to custom fit masks for anyone who is interested,” Bragassa said.

Healthcare providers and first responders in need of a mask can email their contact information to info@peachtreecityorthodontics.com

Pertaining to the wider community, Bragassa said anyone wishing to help with donations of 1/2″ wide elastic straps can place them in the drop-box located on the front porch at Peachtree City Orthodontics, located at 300 Prime Point, Suite 200.

“Swim goggles, head straps and elastic head bands have proven to be very creative and effective substitutes to what we purchased in the stores. Also, if anyone has a 3D printer at home and wants to print a mask framework, the 3D file format can be found on the firedbycornona.com website,” Bragassa added. [Story corrects misspelling of Dr. Bragassa’s name.]