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(The Center Square) – Illinoisans hoping to get their teeth cleaned may have to wait a while longer.

The Illinois State Dental Society is sounding the alarm over a lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE. The Illinois Department of Public Health had issued new guidance allowing dentists to reopen during the COVID-19 outbreak, but with restrictions including requirements for PPE.

Illinois State Dental Society Executive Director Eric Larson said the shortage is real, especially now with many people eager to return to the dentist for dental work.

“Existing supply chains for dental supplies are very backed up right now and it is causing some issues with dentists reopening and what could be considered routine could quickly turn into an emergency if it is left untreated,” Larson said.

One of the obstacles is that hospitals get PPE before dental offices, he said.

“FEMA, at the national level, doesn’t have dentists prioritized on the same level as hospitals even though some of these dental emergencies will end up there if not able to be treated in a dental practice setting,” he said.

Larson said it has been difficult to hear stories about patients being turned away when crucial dental work is needed.

“It is kind of heartbreaking hearing some of them to be quite honest,” he said. “You hear some of them with children involved so we are hopeful and trying to do everything we can to alleviate that.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.