How COVID-19 is Changing the Rules for Dental Emergencies

a young woman with  blonde hair holding her cheek in pain while listening to a dentist With the spread of COVID-19, social distancing and self-isolation are becoming more commonly used phrases. Masks and gloves are now a normal part of a person’s attire, and going to the movies or out to eat are being replaced with board games and at-home cooking. With this infectious disease changing the way we work and interact, it’s no surprise it is also impacting how we receive care at our local dental office. Because so many oral healthcare professionals are currently only seeing emergency patients, how do you know if what you are experiencing is an actual crisis? Let an emergency dentist in Brampton explain what you need to know to protect your smile.

COVID-19: What You Need to Know

As an infectious disease that causes respiratory illness, The World Health Organization (WHO) is reminding individuals to practice proper hygiene habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also known as coronavirus, it causes fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While some patients are admitted for immediate medical attention, others can self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days.

To keep from getting sick, WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Also, people should practice social distancing during this time and avoid making any unnecessary trips outside the house if at all possible.

How to Know When It’s a Real Dental Emergency

The American Dental Association (ADA) recently released a document that explains which scenarios are considered dental emergencies and which ones are not. Before COVID-19, patients who experienced everything from a nagging toothache to a knocked-out tooth or abscess could call their dentist’s office and schedule an appointment. Unfortunately, times have changed, and dental staff members must determine which injuries should receive immediate care and which ones can be cared for at home in the meantime.

To better understand the recommendations of the ADA and what constitutes a real dental emergency, here are the categories:

  • Serious Dental Emergencies: These include continuous bleeding from the mouth, increased swelling that could potentially block the airway, facial trauma (i.e. broken jawbone) that could cause difficulty breathing.
  • Urgent Dental Emergencies: While it will be necessary to receive dental assistance at a later date, these situations can mostly be cared for at home. These include everything from a lost crown or filling, minor toothache, soft tissue injury, a chipped tooth that is not causing pain, or denture repair.
  • Non-Emergencies: These include routine checkups and cleanings, cosmetic treatments, orthodontic procedures, or asymptomatic tooth extractions.

It is important to remember that if you are experiencing severe tooth pain as a result of an abscess or other type of infection, or you have knocked out a tooth, you will need to see your dental professional as soon as possible.

Don’t be afraid to call your dentist’s office during this time. Their kind and caring staff will be available to address your concerns and provide step-by-step instructions on how to take care of your dental injury at home if it is not serious enough for immediate care.

About the Author
Dr. Vince Fava earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Toronto in 1995. As a highly-trained and skilled dental professional, he and his colleagues throughout Canada are facing a similar situation as the United States with regard to the spread of COVID-19. Currently only seeing emergency patients, Dr. Fava and the team at Torbram Dental are here to help answer your questions and address your concerns, especially if facing a dental crisis. No matter the type of injury, we encourage you to contact us at (905) 792-7163. We are here to help!

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