Strict social-distancing measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak mean only essential businesses are continuing to operate. So, what will happen to your upcoming dental appointment? Unfortunately, the American Dental Association has recommended dentists postpone regular appointments through April 30, but remain open to handle dental emergencies and urgent dental care.
What is a dental emergency?
A dental emergency is defined as a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. Examples of dental emergencies include:
- Bleeding from an injury or recent dental procedure
- Soft tissue bacterial infection with swelling that could compromise your airway
- Trauma or injury to the facial bones that could compromise your airway
What is an urgent dental condition?
Some dental issues are not life-threatening, but they still require immediate attention to alleviate pain, decrease the risk of infection, and prevent the condition from worsening. Urgent dental conditions that can be treated during the coronavirus outbreak include:
- Inflammation of dental pulp
- Gum infection
- “Dry socket” after dental surgery
- Abscesses or bacterial infections
- Tooth fracture that results in soft tissue trauma or severe pain
- Full or partial tooth displacement
- Biopsy of abnormal tissue
- Final crown or bridge restoration if temporary crown/bridge is lost or broken
- Suture removal from previous dental surgery
- Denture adjustment in conjunction with cancer treatment
- Orthodontic adjustments to relieve pain, such as snipping wires on braces
What types of regular dental care can be postponed?
Regular checkups that include deep cleanings and X-rays can be postponed until social distancing guidelines are relaxed. But even if you don’t have a regular dental check-up or orthodontic adjustment that can be rescheduled, there are other types of dental care that can be postponed if they come up, including:
- Removal of teeth that are not causing pain
- Filling cavities that are not causing pain
- Teeth whitening procedures
- Restorative dental procedures such as crowns, bridges, dentures, and dental implants
- Aesthetic dental procedures such as veneers, crowns, and dental implants
What should you do in the meantime?
While you wait for your postponed dental checkup, it’s important to continue your daily oral health routine of brushing and flossing to prevent the occurrence of minor dental issues that can’t be addressed immediately. It’s also a good idea to avoid, if possible, activities that might lead to dental injuries, such as certain sports and dangerous home projects.
How should you maintain good oral health when you’re sick with coronavirus or another illness?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (or suspect you have, in the absence of a test), or another severe illness like the flu, it’s important to maintain your daily oral health routine as much as you’re able. Other suggestions to follow if you’re sick include:
- Buy sugar-free cough drops instead of drops that contain sugar or fructose, which can lead to cavities
- Stay hydrated to avoid dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities
- Buy a new toothbrush to use after the sickness passes
Not sure if you need an emergency or urgent dental appointment?
If you have a moderate to severe dental issue and you’re not sure if it’s serious enough for a dental appointment, the easiest way to find out is to ask. At San Diego Periodontics & Implant Dentistry, we are open to care for emergency and urgent dental conditions, and we can help you determine whether it’s necessary to make an appointment. For more information, give us a call at (619) 543-0905.