The mask-buying frenzy over COVID-19 could leave medical workers without needed supplies or even their jobs. A group in B.C. says dentists could be laid off as masks run out. It’s not just affecting them either; medical professionals all over are struggling along with few supplies.

The B.C. Dental Hygienist Association (BCDHA) says dentists could start cancelling appointments or facing layoffs after shoppers in B.C. snatched up their much-needed medical masks.

They are “really worried they're going to be looking at unemployment insurance,” said Andrea Burton, executive director of the BCDHA to CBC.

“Dental hygienists cannot practice without a proper mask,” she said.

Masks are a must-have in their profession, seeing how close they work to their patients’ mouths. This is especially true after the COVID-19 outbreak. 

A news release by the BCDHA said that, while they're screening patients for symptoms of novel coronavirus, they're still relying on normal medical masks to do their work.

Experts believe COVID-19 spreads through air droplets which can then be inhaled.

While many say certain face masks and respirators work great in catching the droplets, they also warn that masks could actually spread the disease because they don’t kill the viruses they catch.

For the general public, many experts agree that the masks are unnecessary.

Despite this, some store shelves are now empty; in some cases, people are selling what remains at sky-high prices.

Instead of buying masks, experts are saying to use your common sense.

For example, B.C.'s Centre for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with plain soap and warm water for 20 seconds as one of the best ways to curb infection.

In a pinch, hand sanitizer works wonders.

It’s not just dentists that have felt the sudden drop in available masks; B.C.’s health professionals have been eyeing the decrease in masks since the beginning, reported Global News.

“There’s been consistent demand since the whole coronavirus issue started in January, it hasn’t really gone away,” said Barry Power from the Canadian Pharmacist Association to Global News.

"When healthy people purchase items such as surgical masks, they are increasing the risk that care workers won’t have them at care homes or when they provide home care," said Jennifer Lyle, CEO of SafeCare BC to Global.

*"We have conveyed our concerns to the Ministry of Health and are continuing to look into alternative supply options," said the B.C. Dental Association to Narcity.

While they say the disappearance of masks is a "growing concern," it's not yet become an active issue.

The Association added that generally only healthy people visit the dentist. "Sick people generally do not want to sit in a dental chair with their mouths open, so it is quite rare that very sick people keep their dental appointments!" they wrote in an email to Narcity.

*This article has been updated.

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