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Local dentists 'brace' for uncertain future

Colorado Springs dentist's heading to Ecuador to help improve smiles
Posted at 7:40 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 00:16:56-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Now that dentists can start performing more procedures, many of them have a different set of problems. Several clinics in our area say they barely have enough personal protective equipment to do the procedures in the first place. It's no different at Comfort Dental in Colorado Springs.

"We were able to get a bunch of stuff online," explained Dr. Grant Mack. "Luckily I have a partner who was able to print some masks for us." Mack said.

A lot of the PPE stock the clinic does have was either donated or made from scratch.

According to Dr. Jeff Kahl, a pediatric dentist and President of the Colorado Dentists Association, at the beginning of the pandemic dentists were told to limit all non-emergent care. They were also asked to take inventory of their stock, and donate some of it if possible.

"Most of it went to local hospitals," Kahl said.

"We did donate several boxes of masks to China and then of course a few weeks later we're hit with it," Mack said.

Now that things are starting to open up again, confusion is lingering like a bad tooth ache, from equipment shortages to a different set of PPE needs.

"When we would order equipment they would say it's on the delivery truck and then it would not show up," Mack said. "A lot of that stuff has been allocated to hospitals."

"We need things like N95 masks, face shields, and disposable gowns," Kahl explained.

Dentists must also decide what procedures they can and can't do. At Comfort Dental, Mack says his staff has decided to play it safe.

"We decided to be on the safer end of that and not really do any procedures that we feel can be put off," he said.

In the meantime-, virtual check-ins and screenings are a must for all patients, and until the equipment is back in stock Kahl says dental offices should reopen slowly.

"We don't have much choice to ramp up slowly," he said.