Dental Emergency During Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic
As more cities and countries throughout the world move to implement lockdown procedures your ability to visit a dentist for your oral health issues has been limited as well. For this reason, we have decided to create this post to address your concerns and offer professional advice from Dr. Diana Wu, DDS, a trusted emergency dentist practicing dentistry in Issaquah, WA.
What is considered a dental emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A dental emergency is any event that is potentially life-threatening and requires immediate treatment. This includes uncontrolled tissue bleeding, severe pain, infection (swelling inside the mouth or on the face) that potentially compromises your airway, or trauma involving facial bones that may also potentially compromise your airway.
When should I visit an emergency dentist?
If you have a dental emergency as described above, or a condition that needs urgent care, you should seek emergency dental care by calling your dentist.
Below is a list of conditions that are considered urgent:
- Severe dental pain from nerve pain (may be caused by decay, trauma or idiopathic)
- Pericoronitis- swelling of the tissues surrounding the third molars
- Third molar pain
- Dry socket (after tooth extraction)
- Abscess (localized bacterial infection) resulting in localized pain and swelling
- Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
- Dental trauma where a tooth is dislodged from its normal position (luxation) or is displaced completely out from the socket (avulsion)
- Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken, or causing gingival irritation
- Biopsy of abnormal tissue
In what cases should I NOT visit a dentist and stay at home?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, addressing and treating the COVID19 takes precedence. We must all do everything possible to prevent further spread of CVOID-19. Having said that, in case you still believe you require immediate attention please call the emergency department (911) and follow their advice.
How to treat tooth pain at home without going to the dentist?
Depending on your medical history and any known allergies to medications, some over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate the pain. I recommend calling our office for specific instructions on what medication to take at home for the pain. For pain management, you can also do warm salt water rinses for gum pain/irritation (1 tsp of salt with 8oz of warm water). Or warm moist heat massage for muscular/jaw pain – moisten towel and heat in microwave for 10 seconds and massage on the affected area.
What type of gum bleeding requires immediate doctor attention?
When you have uncontrolled bleeding (bleeding that does not stop after a few minutes of applying pressure), then I recommend seeking immediate care.
What is the CDC recommendation about visiting a dentist?
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association recommend to postpone elective dental procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent dental visits, and prioritize only urgent and emergency visits as described above.
Is going to a dentist safe or dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic?
There are still many unknowns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. However, when proper screening protocols, infection control and personal protective equipment (PPE) are used, the risk of exposure is significantly decreased. You can read about the extra precautions we have implemented at Issaquah Premier Dental.