With thousands of Australian dental practices facing imminent closure and the dental health of Australians in jeopardy, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) says it applauds the federal government for sourcing a new supply of masks, as Federal Minister Greg Hunt has announced that the dental and medical professions would together receive 54 million masks.
The supply will include surgical masks and P2 and N95 respirators that will form part of the National Medical Stockpile for use by medical, dental, and senior care professionals. It is not yet known how many of these masks will go to dentists.
“This is great news for the dental profession. Since the coronavirus reduced the number of surgical masks coming into Australia, the ADA has been working hard behind the scenes and constantly talking to the Minister and Chief Medical Officer to get help in finding new mask suppliers,” said ADA president Dr. Carmelo Bonanno.
“This week we finally went public and went to the media on a very difficult situation. If new supply sources weren’t found, many dental practices would be forced to shut their doors within the next four weeks,” said Bonanno.
“This is because dentists and their assistants both need to wear a new mask for every patient, with the nation’s 7,500 practices using around 9.5 million masks a month. Masks are an essential component of infection control, and without these, dentists would be closing their doors in every state and territory very soon,” said Bonanno.
“The upshot of this is that people facing short- and long-term oral health issues and those with dental emergencies would flood hospital emergency departments and burden an already overstretched public health system even further,” said Bonanno.
“So, the ADA is delighted that our ongoing discussions have resulted in the federal government finding this alternative surgical mask supply. This will go some way to ensuring dental practices will be able to stay open and continue to provide excellent care to their patients,” said Bonanno.
“The challenge now is to ensure new supply sources are ongoing. The government also has plans to boost domestic manufacturing capability and capacity, so we will be talking to Minister Hunt about shoring up an ongoing supply moving forward,” said Bonanno.