Alberta dentists struggle to get enough PPE to resume procedures
'I haven't been able to get the N95 masks yet. I can't get gowns, I can't get caps'
Some Alberta dentists say they still can't find enough personal protective equipment as the province begins gradually allowing them to resume their practices.
Earlier this week, dentists were allowed to start taking on urgent cases under the province's relaunch plan, and further restrictions could be lifted as early as May 14.
"It's been pretty time consuming … and it seems to be all I'm thinking about right now," said Calgary dentist Dr. Laura Brescia.
She says she's been working flat out to try to find enough personal protective equipment to resume her practice, having contacted Alberta Health Services and supply companies.
"I haven't been able to get the N95 masks yet. I can't get gowns, I can't get caps," she said.
Dentists need those items to perform procedures that generate aerosols — including anything involving a drill and suction.
Ronna Richardson-Lozano, the infection control co-ordinator with the University of Alberta's School of Dentistry, says she's hearing these concerns from across the province
She says that without access to approved PPE, dentists won't be able to resume the vast majority of procedures once all the restrictions are lifted — which could be as early as May 14.
"The PPE is just not available and people can't be safe while they're treating patients," she said.
AHS and Alberta Health say they're working together to secure personal protective equipment for dentists.
"As this is a global pandemic, supplies of personal protective equipment are in high demand worldwide," said Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan in an email.
"We know that many are anxious and are moving as quickly and effectively as possible. We will work with dentists and others to address PPE needs as appropriate."
With files from Jennifer Lee