The struggles of a dentist during COVID


Blayr Young

Dr. Young (pictured at work before the pandemic) provides essential dental care to her patients.

After the pandemic hit, my mom, Dr. Shelley Young, got labeled as an essential worker. An essential worker is a position that requires people to work during the pandemic because their work is essential to the livelihood of society. Dr. Young is a dentist, and dentists are at the highest risk of all professional workers when it comes to attracting COVID-19 while working.

Young owns Universal Smiles, which is a mobile dentist company that also has an office in Calumet City. The company was forced to close in late March and remained closed up until October due to COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, the state placed a ban on school-based dentistry which put Young’s mobile dentist service on hold. The ban was repealed January 12, but Young says starting up the mobile dentistry will still take about a month.

Being able to reopen was great news for Young and her employees, but it wasn’t easy. The new restrictions affected the number of patients that could be scheduled, limited the patients in the office and forced employees to take frequent COVID-19 tests. Young says that there has been more money going into protective wear recently, which has greatly inflated in price.

“A box of latex gloves that would normally cost $12 are now $65 because of Covid,” Young mentioned.

There has been a financial strain on the company because more money is being spent to see fewer customers.

Although it has been hard for Young in the past few months, she says that she is lucky to be among the first to get vaccinated and is looking forward to working in schools again.