Des Plaines dental lab facing challenges during pandemic
Mike Bridge has been working in dental labs since he was 14, when he cleaned a neighborhood dental office after hours.
Bridge, now 65, and Tom Sadkowy, 58, are dental technicians and co-owners of Diamond Dental Laboratory Inc. in Des Plaines, which makes crowns, bridges and dentures. Both are Triton College graduates who have been working in the field since the early '80s.
They have seen their 20-year-old business slow to a trickle since dentists have been directed to see emergency patients only.
Eight employees and one office staff member have been furloughed. The owners are the only ones left working. Two to three emergency crowns a month are now being produced, which is equivalent to Diamond's daily output before the pandemic.
"It's devastating to our industry. All the labs are in the same situation," Bridge said.
The critical time, he said, will be after dental offices reopen and orders start coming in. Then, dental labs will need 4-6 weeks of cash flow available until invoices are paid by dentists.
Sadkowy is concerned dental appliances will be low on people's priority list, given how people generally don't like to go to the dentist.
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