Across the country over the past few weeks, many stores have struggled to keep up with Americans’ increased demand for certain foods, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other personal-care and cleaning supplies.

Also in recent weeks, many dental and medical offices have dealt with a shortage of some critical personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks and face shields.

This mask shortage is apparently due to a higher-than-normal demand globally for infection control products amid the coronavirus outbreak. The surge in demand in masks, specifically, has been the focus of news reports for at least a month.

Dealing with the Shortage

As recently as a few weeks ago, dental offices were open for business, but dealing with a shortage of masks. “Our office has received a limited supply of masks,” Morgan B. shared about a month ago.

Guinevere J, CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, had started seeing this as well in her office, and staff there had been taking steps over the past month to avoid running out of masks in the dental office. “We order five boxes of one brand, five boxes of another, and so on and so on, with orders spread over several days,” she explained.

“We had to order a different brand while making our last order, due to our usual brand being out of stock,” Melanie Carol H., CDA, echoed.

Jennifer M.’s large office — which sees many patients — also has seen the access to dental supplies dwindle lately. In fact, some dental supply manufacturers have been limiting mask and other supply orders and warning of potential delivery delays or even order cancellations. “We’re only allowed to buy six boxes,” Jennifer M. said about a month ago.

Donating Dental Supplies

With many dental offices temporarily closing or treating emergency cases only, some offices have stepped up to donate supplies they have on hand — including masks and gloves — to hospitals and other medical centers.

In fact, recent news reports reflect this trend across many states. Some dental groups and dental staff members are even coordinating efforts to collect donations from dental offices for healthcare facilities. One woman in Michigan, who works as a practice consultant, coordinated such an effort and said it was an incredible success. “Honestly, it was better than I expected,” she told the local news.

And some dental assistant schools are among those groups donating supplies to help address the shortage. A school in Massachusetts is one example, with students and educators alike rounding up thousands of supplies to donate to the local hospital. The school superintendent said staff went through the building, unlocking cabinets and looking in every possible place for supplies to donate. They went through every inch of the building, he said in a recent news report.

At a time when healthcare professionals are under even greater pressures, these donations will go a long way to save lives.


What has been your experience over the past few weeks? Share your story.