08 May Understanding Dental Emergency Care in the Time of COVID-19
COVID-19 changed the way we all live life. From social distancing and shelter in place orders to the restrictions of quarantine, running a simple errand has now become an event. No longer do we leisurely run to the store, sure that most everything we want will be in stock. Now, we plan shopping trips days in advance and often have to travel from store-to-store just to find the necessities. Restaurants, hair salons, nail studies, and any nonessential business closed and the streets of many cities look like a ghost town.
During this time, our dental offices in Phoenix and Mesa have adjusted to the new reality. As such, dental emergencies receive top priority. Here’s what you need to know.
Life Has Been Different, Especially For Non-Essential Services
The virus has also impacted the way countless businesses operate, including dental offices. For some time now dental offices like ours modified our operating hours and which patients to see. However, on April 20, 2020, Arizona Governor Ducey issued an executive order stating the following:
“Patients should be able to resume elective, non-essential surgeries (including dental surgeries) on May 1st.”
This doesn’t mean our office will be business as usual, though. There are still many stipulations to meet to operate our office safely. Our goal is to provide safe care to our patients who need urgent or emergency dental care.
ADA Guidelines For Safe Dental Office Operations
The Governor’s executive order is meant to get Arizona back to work and give patients access to needed medical care, including dental services, while keeping patients safe. Therefore, our offices adhere to the guidelines and recommendations of the Arizona Dental Association, the American Dental Association and those of the Centers for Disease Control, which includes the following recommendations:
- Continued use of PPE for dentists and staff, such as the use of masks, gowns and eye protection.
- If a patient has a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, there should be no aerosol-generating procedures completed. In addition, all staff members working on said patient should wear all the PPE equipment mentioned above.
- Clean and disinfect all reusable eye protection prior to use and discard disposable protection after use.
- Postpone elective procedures, along with non-urgent dental visits. Defer dental treatment when possible.
- Telephone triage patients who need emergency dental care and use teleconferencing as an alternative to regular office visits.
What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?
Even as our offices open up in a greater capacity, the CDC guidelines still prefer you to postpone non-essential dental care and only come in for dental emergencies. Therefore, it’s important to understand what constitutes a dental emergency that merits in person attention, even in the wake of COVID-19:
- Trauma that involves the facial bones, which can compromise the airway.
- Bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling, which can impact the airway.
- Uncontrolled bleeding.
Urgent Dental Matters:
The following are considered slightly less important than a dental emergency, but still require prompt dental attention:
- Dental trauma.
- Tooth fractures or losing a tooth.
- Abscessed tooth or localized bacterial infection that results in swelling and pain.
- Dry socket dressing, post-surgical.
- Third-molar pain or pericoronitis.
Why You Should Postpone Some Dental Procedures
If you don’t have any of the conditions listed above, it’s best to postpone your visit to our office. However, it’s important to remember that even though we want to keep you safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, genuine emergencies must be taken care of in a timely manner to prevent additional damage and/or trauma. Do not put off a true dental emergency!
Now more than ever, it’s important you focus on proper oral care to prevent cavities and other painful conditions that can evolve into the emergency category. During this time, when routine dental care is postponed for safety reasons, we advise you to brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once a day. We also recommend switching to an electric toothbrush to boost your cleaning power. Contact us for all your dental needs and with questions about how our offices in Mesa and Phoenix will keep you safe while taking care of your teeth.