Emergency Dentistry During COVID-19: Reducing Office Traffic

This month, the American Dental Association released an official statement recommending that each dentist shift their practice to emergency dental care only. However, that’s a fairly vague term, which is why your local dentist is going to outline what types of problems are considered “emergency” situations that require timely care. Read on to learn why the switch to providing only emergency services was made, and how you can tell if you require urgent dental treatment.

Why Are Dental Offices Closing Due to COVID-19?

Even though dental offices stepped up their effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 by adjusting their routine office cleaning procedures, most dental offices are now closed at the recommendation of the ADA’s statement. This is in an effort to stop the virus from rapidly spreading and encourage social isolation. In addition, a statement released by the Idaho State Dental Society confirmed that dentists were in one of the highest risk categories for transmission and contraction of the virus due to the fact that it’s spread by droplet exposure. In an effort to make communities more safe, dentists around the country have closed their door and are only accepting patients who need emergency assistance.

What are Non-Emergent Issues?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell what’s a dental emergency and what isn’t because you don’t have the equipment or knowledge necessary to diagnose the issue. To make things a little easier, here’s a list of non-urgent dental issues that was released by the ADA:

  • Routine checkups and cleanings
  • Orthodontic treatments that don’t address pain
  • Preventive treatments (such as dental sealants and fluoride treatments)
  • Extraction of non-painful teeth
  • Restorative dentistry
  • Cosmetic treatments

What Problems Are Considered “Emergencies”?

A good rule-of-thumb to follow before you contact your emergency dentist is if you’re in pain, which is something that likely requires immediate attention. Otherwise, you can contact your dentist’s office directly and ask for their opinion. Here are some procedures and problems that can be addressed with emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Severe toothache
  • Swollen gums
  • Wisdom tooth pain
  • Dry socket dressing changes
  • Dental treatment required before a major medical procedure
  • Dental damage or trauma
  • A painful tooth fracture
  • Biopsy of possibly cancerous tissue
  • Lost of damaged crown or bridge replacement
  • Extensive and painful tooth decay
  • Suture removal
  • Denture adjustments
  • Replacing temporary filling or crown if there is pain

If you’re ever in doubt, your emergency dentist can provide you with their insight as well as some first-aid guidance over the phone until you’re able to reach their office. Even though it may be tempting to hold off as long as possible on addressing these issues to see if they’ll go away on their own, this often results in them only getting worse. With timely management, you can preserve the health of your smile for decades to come.