ATLANTA - Leaning over the open mouths of patients every day, Dr. Alex Rodriguez says his staff at Inman Park Dentistry goes through hundreds of protective masks a month.
"We're not putting on hazmats suits if we're doing a filling. But, we want to keep our aerosols that we're breathing, and we have patients breathing in our face," Dr. Rodriguez says. " So, there is a certain amount of protection we need."
But finding masks is tough. With people trying to protect themselves from COVID-19, Dr. Rodriguez says, the demand is so high, suppliers are rationing masks -- and he's getting only half of his usual shipments.
"I cannot order as much as I want to. Now, to be fair, I'm sure every doctor's office, every dental office, everybody is worried about this right now," Dr. Rodriguez says.
Because he says, they can't afford to run out.
"We're not close to that. But, I decided last week to see if I could buy some on Amazon. And it's hard. I did find a few hundred that I ordered. Paid through the nose for them."
Masked dental staff working on patient.
Dr. Rodriguez says his practice has long been using universal precautions:
"You treat every patient as if they've got something. So, that's why we use gloves, that's why we use masks, and that's why we disinfect everything," the dentists adds. "If we experience someone in our office having a cough, even if it's from allergies or something, we might give them a mask, and say, "Here, put this on, just for everyone's peace of mind."
And, he says, if you're not feeling well, it's okay to cancel.
"We're not going to be charging anything extra for that. We don't want anyone coming in sick, not only for our own selves but for the safety of our other patients."