Dentists worried about shortage of masks in light of new coronavirus outbreak

The Ontario Ministry of Health says it’s working with the makers of medical masks to address shortage concerns by dentists in light of the new coronavirus outbreak.

A memo sent to the provincial regulator for dentistry says it’s aware there’s a backlog for some orders of personal protective equipment, which dentists need to wear during any routine dental procedure.

But it says the ministry is working with health sector partners — manufacturers and supply chain organizations — to ensure critical shortages are addressed.

Despite advice from Canadian health authorities that masks are not effective for healthy people, fear of the novel coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 that’s rapidly spreading in China has prompted a rush from the public to stockpile the protective gear.

Earlier this week federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters that Canada does have a stockpile of masks for domestic use and her department is monitoring the rumblings of a supply chain shortage.

Suppliers ‘putting measures in place’ to stop hoarding

Aaron Burry of the Canadian Dental Association says because of concerns raised by dentists, it has contacted distributors of masks, gloves and other protective equipment.

He says suppliers are being “cautious” and “putting measures in place” to control the availability of these products and to prevent stockpiling.

But Burry has acknowledged he’s heard about some supply problems and says he has been told that boxes of masks have been stolen from dental waiting rooms.

For a routine dental cleaning or a simple filling, a dentist and hygienist must wear gloves, a mask, a gown or protective clothing and protective eye wear.

For more invasive procedures, there are additional precautions and gloves and masks must be changed between each patient and should also be changed if compromised.


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