Not having proper PPE can leave you feeling quite exposed. These dentists are taking it to another level.

By Taylyn Washington-Harmon
May 01, 2020
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Lockdowns across the globe are beginning to ease, and in France, dentists are expected to return to full-time work in the coming weeks. Problem is, many French dentists say there's a shortage of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to do their jobs safely.

So they’ve gotten naked in protest. The hashtag #dentisteapoil, or “naked dentist,” featuring several French dentists posing in the nude in their offices, has reached over 100 posts on Instagram. 

“I chose to defend my profession because if tomorrow we have to treat our patients without PPE, we will be naked and defenseless,” Maud Braun-Reys, a French dentist who bared all for the hashtag, tells Health. “When my father, who is also a dentist, took the photograph, I felt like the confidence I have as a dentist treating my patient in my surgery had been drained from me and instead I felt vulnerable.”

The way these dentists have drawn attention to their plight is pretty radical, but they do have a point. Dentists have to wear PPE, such as masks and gloves, because they need to be so physically close to their patients, who generate saliva and blood during procedures, Kyle Bogan, DDS, an Ohio-based dentist and member of the American Dental Association, tells Health. “Along with having trust in your dentist’s ability to care for your needs, more than ever a patient has to trust in the cleanliness and safety of the dental environment,” says Dr. Bogan.

Apparently the naked social media protest has been effective. In response, the French government announced plans to provide dentists with 150,000 FFP2 masks once the country's lockdown lifts on May 11, according to Public Radio International. Still, Dr. Braun-Reys fears that may not be enough for all 42,000 of the nation’s dentists, worrying the supply will last for just “one day of work,” she tells PRI.

Meanwhile, an offshoot of the protest has reached Germany. Called “Blanke Bendeken,” or Naked Qualms, it's a website featuring nude doctors posing with stethoscopes and other medical tools to raise awareness of the lack of PPE many health care workers are facing in that nation. 

What's the situation like in the US? Many dental clinics nationwide plan to open up in the coming weeks (during the lockdown, they were limited to only doing emergency procedures). The American Dental Association has established a Task Force for Dental Recovery to address expected PPE shortages.

In the United States, “current demand for certain PPE is reported by main dental distributors to be at least 10 times that of supply,” stated Jim Goodman, senior vice president of the American Dental Association Business Group in a press release. He added that he's hopeful that the supply will "catch up to demand in mid- to late summer."

If it doesn't, who knows? American dentists could decide to borrow the French dentists' strategy...and you might soon come across a nude protest photo of your local orthodontist on social media.

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