The American Dental Association has recommended that dentists across the United States postpone elective procedures for the next few weeks in order for dentistry to play its role in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
So what does that mean for you, the patient? In order to protect all patients and staff, many dental offices are only seeing patients as needed for emergencies at this time. Dental emergencies, according to the ADA, “are potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection. Conditions include uncontrolled bleeding; cellulitis or a diffuse soft-tissue bacterial infection with intraoral or extraoral swelling that potentially compromises the patient’s airway; or trauma involving facial bones that potentially compromises the patient’s airway.”
As part of the emergency guidance, the ADA added urgent dental care that “focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments.”
Examples of urgent dental care treatments, which should be treated as minimally invasively as possible, include:
- Severe pain from a tooth or absess
- Severe swelling of the gums
- Dry socket shortly after the removal of a tooth
- Broken tooth that is causing pain
- If a temporary or permanent cap (or crown) has been lost
Sometimes tooth pain could mean sinusitis, especially for your upper teeth. Learn more.
“The American Dental Association recognizes the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all health care professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19,” according to the March 16 statement from ADA President Chad P. Gehani. “Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.
If you have an appointment scheduled, please check with the dental office before going, either via their website/social media pages or by calling, both to see if they are open for business and to see what kinds of appointments they are keeping.
We encourage you during this time of social distancing to be mindful of what constitutes a necessary risk, and we know that our network providers are doing their best to take care of our members while still keeping their staff and other patients safe.
We are continuing to track information and recommendations provided by the CDC, ADA and state and local governments and promise to update you along the way. We appreciate you and your support. While we know that these are uncertain times, your Delta Dental team is doing their best to keep you informed about matters pertaining to your oral health. We are here for you.