Can I Go To the Dentist During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

View of a dental operatory with two chairs

The ADA (American Dental Association) has recommended that dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. What does this mean for you? Normal checkups, cleanings, and procedures that are not an emergency have been postponed for three weeks.

We are concerned about the well-being and health of the dental team and the public. For our part in mitigating the spread of the virus, elective procedures have been postponed and we are concentrating more on emergency dental care. This focus allows us to take care of patients without them having to visit an emergency room and risk being infected by the coronavirus.

It is up to us to make decisions about our patients and practices during this time, however, the ADA has been committed to providing us with the latest information pertaining to protocols and procedures to ensure the health of our patients.

What is a dental emergency?

A Toy Ambulance

Not every dental situation is considered an emergency. To help you determine if you can wait to be seen, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you in severe pain? Bleeding and severe pain are clear signs of a dental emergency.
  • Did you lose a tooth?
  • Are your teeth loose? Adults’ teeth should never be loose. Even without pain, a loose tooth is a serious problem.
  • Do you think you have an infection? A serious infection or an abscess in your mouth should not wait because it can be potentially life-threatening. Typically, you’ll notice knots on your gums, swelling, or even swelling around your face.

If you are experiencing these problems, you should NOT go to the ER. Instead, you need to schedule an emergency exam immediately.

What is not a dental emergency?

A Set of Fake Teeth

If the problem can wait, it is not a dental emergency. Sometimes issues that seem critical can actually wait a day or so if you continue to take care of yourself.

For example, a cracked or chipped tooth is an emergency if it causes pain or if the fracture leaves sharp pieces that cause trauma in your mouth. However, if the tooth doesn’t hurt then you can wait to see the dentist.

Also, as long as there isn’t any pain involved… a toothache can also wait. Just as long as you do not have any symptoms of an abscess that include bumps on your gums, swelling of the face, or a high fever.

You can also likely wait a few days to see the dentist if you have lost a crown or a filling. After losing a filling, you can stick a piece of sugar-free gum into the cavity temporarily. If you lose a crown, you may denture adhesive to put the crown back on temporarily.

Dental Emergencies

If you find yourself suffering from a dental emergency, here is what to do in the meantime until you can get to the dentist.

  • Knocked-Out Teeth
    • According to the American Association of Endodontists, if you act quickly after a tooth has been knocked out, your dentist may be able to preserve and reinsert your tooth
      If this has happened to you, please carefully pick up the tooth without touching the root. Rinse the tooth without scrubbing it and reinsert the tooth back in its socket. If you are not able to do this, place the tooth in a container (i.e. a pill bottle, Advil bottle, Tylenol bottle, etc), with milk and contact the dentist.
  • Chipped or Cracked Tooth
    • If you are suffering from a fracture that is painful and/or serious, use warm water to clean your mouth and use a cold compress to reduce swelling on the outside of your face.
  • Dental Abscess
    • An abscessed tooth is a potentially life-threatening and severe condition where there is a pocket of pus in the tooth that may lead to infection. A tooth abscess may cause pimple-like bumps on the gums, tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, a toothache that is persistent, a fever, tender lymph nodes, and swelling in your face.
      An infection like this can spread to the surrounding tissue, jaw, and even other areas on your body. While you wait to be seen by a dentist, use mild salt water to rinse your mouth several times to bring the pus to the surface.

Avoiding dental emergencies

Toothbrushes on a ledge against a wall

To avoid dental emergencies, it is important to stay proactive with your oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. After we have dealt with the coronavirus and things get back to normal, we can resume all normal procedures and maintain routine check-ups. East Orlando Dental prides itself on identifying signs of decay, infection, and gum disease then providing treatment plans to make our patients happy. Our treatment plans are created to help address issues before they turn into an emergency.

Although your oral hygiene regimen can keep emergencies like these at bay, we understand that dental emergencies can happen. Time is of the essence to prevent the situation from getting worse and it’s important to remember not to visit the ER, but to contact a dentist.

If you are visiting our office during the Coronavirus outbreak, here is what to expect:

  • Temperature is taken of all individuals entering the office including our team members. Any temperature over 100.4°will be asked to reschedule and leave the office.
  • Because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus our waiting room is closed to minimize risks, so we ask you to please wait in your car or outside until it is time for your appointment.
  • Upon Entry, we ask all patients to wash their hands and not touch anything on the way to the operatory room.
  • We ask that you reschedule if any of the following pertains to you:
    • If you have been sick in the last 14 days
    • If you have traveled anywhere within the past 30 days especially to a coronavirus hotspot
    • If you have been to an airport
    • If you are currently sick with a fever, cough, sore throat, muscle pain, or GI symptoms.

The ADA will continue evaluating and updating its recommendations on an ongoing basis. We will focus on keeping you in the loop as new information becomes available and if situations change.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been deemed a pandemic and has been reported in 151 countries including the United States. It is our goal to take protective measures against this new virus. Taking precautions at our office was made to ensure the health and well-being of our patients and staff.

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