As this coronavirus situation has unfolded, all of us – your dentist, the dental staff, and our patients – have been faced with questions about how to lead our daily lives while being told we must stay at home. And we’ve all felt how uncomfortable and frustrating the uncertainty and restrictions can be. My staff and I have seen that those feelings are magnified when your health, or that of a family member, is the cause of that uncertainty.
We’re now getting numerous questions every day from our dental patients about handling their dental appointments and needs since the stay-at-home measures went into place. We hope that by sharing the answers to the most common questions that you’ll feel more confident in dealing with your dental health during this time.
Some frequently asked about Covid-19
Is my nearby dental office open?
Dental offices are allowed to see patients who are having an emergency. At Choice Dental, we’re staffing the phones as we should at this time. So, don’t worry if you should run into a problem – we can and will provide emergency care. You may be asked to video conference with us. This is called teledentistry and it allows the patient and dentist to have a consultation to assess your problem without you needing to come into the office. After the consultation the dentist can determine what the appropriate next steps may be.
We recommend you check your dentist’s website first, and then call if you’re still unclear about whether the office is open for emergencies only or if it can handle elective procedures as well.
What is considered a dental emergency?
Dental emergencies, “are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding or to alleviate severe pain or infection.”
What constitutes an emergency is actually pretty simple – it’s about pain or trauma. Some common dental emergencies include:
- Severe dental pain (most people think of this as a “toothache”)
- Pain from a wisdom tooth
- Post-operative pain from a dental surgery or procedure
Please check with your dentist to determine how long elective procedures should be postponed.
At Choice Dental, we have chosen to attend to emergencies. Not only will this help limit exposure and transmission of the virus for patients and staff, but it also helps preserve and extend the supply of personal protective equipment that is badly needed in both hospitals and dental offices.
- An abscess or localized pain and swelling
- A broken tooth resulting in pain or cutting your tongue or cheek
- A tooth being knocked out
- Dental treatment if a temporary crown or bridge is lost, broken, or causing gum irritation
Other emergency dental care includes extensive decay or defective fillings that cause pain, removal of stitches, denture adjustments for radiation/oncology patients, denture adjustments or repairs to address difficulty chewing, replacing a temporary filling on a tooth with a root.
What about my dental checkup that’s scheduled?
This will be one of the few times that you’ll hear a dentist advise that you avoid your six-month checkup. But routine hygiene and cleaning appointments are considered elective procedures. A more complete list of elective or non-emergency dental procedures includes:
- Initial examinations (including x-rays)
- Periodic (six-month) checkups (also including x-rays)
- Routine dental cleanings and other preventive therapies
- Orthodontic procedures other than those to address a problem (e.g., pain, infection, trauma)
- Extraction of teeth that do not hurt (like having your wisdom teeth pulled)
- Fillings on cavities that aren’t causing pain
- Aesthetic dental procedures (such as whitening)
Make no mistake — six-month exams are still very important. As soon as the crisis passes let’s get that hygiene appointment rescheduled for you.
What happens when I get to the dental office with an emergency?
This may vary based on the protocols put in place by any individual dental office to maintain social distancing. In Choice Dental, we maintain social distancing by scheduling emergency appointments so patient visits do not overlap.
Some offices may request that you stay in the car and will text or call you when it is appropriate to enter the office. Either way your safety and reducing the possible spread of the virus between patients is of the utmost importance.
Dentists or their staff will ask questions, and for everyone’s safety you’ll want to answer honestly-
- Have you had symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19? (common symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, runny nose, or sore throat
- Within the past 14 days have you travelled by airplane?
- Within the past 14 days have you been in close proximity (less than six feet) at a gathering of 10 or more persons?
- Within the past 14 days have you had close contact with a person who has been confirmed positive or suspected to be positive for COVID-19?
Dentists will also monitor the health of their staff in order to limit possible exposure to the virus.
If the dentist is comfortable with the answers to the screening questions and your condition does need emergency attention, then he or she will render the appropriate treatment.
Even if you have what might qualify as an emergency, the dentist will evaluate if a procedure can be delayed for 15 days. This judgment would be based on assuring that waiting won’t cause you undue
harm or pain. An example is a lost or broken filling where a temporary filling can be quickly and easily placed, allowing you to return in the future for the more involved final filling.
What safety measures will the office take if I have to come in for an emergency treatment?
As health-care providers, dentists and their teams are trained on the guidelines for infection control and using the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as mask and gloves.
If we do need to provide emergency treatment, we’ll attempt to minimize the use of equipment that creates airborne spray. This is a precautionary measure to limit the potential spread of the virus since any patient could be positive but undiagnosed and not yet exhibiting symptoms.
The Choice Dental team has been trained in the latest ways to minimize the possibility of transmitting the virus.
If I’m missing my checkup should I do anything differently?
Make sure you are brushing and flossing.
Do everything as you would normally. It’s never been more important to do the best job possible to maintain your oral health. Since many of us will have extra time on our hands, make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes.
Extra cleaning and disinfection protocols Choice Dental has implemented in response to the coronavirus
Temperature recording at the entrance.
We are requiring every patient to use hand sanitizer upon entering. We’re disinfecting every doorknob and countertop. From the front desk to the treatment rooms everything is wiped down between patient visits and at the end of each day. We are going the extra mile to make sure every inch of the treatment areas and equipment are disinfected.
If you feel like you want to take extra steps to protect your hygiene during this time, here are a few ideas:
1) Use a powered toothbrush like Oral B
2) Use an irrigation device- Airfloss by Phillips is a good brand
3) Use your favorite mouth wash with flouride
4) Floss – if you don’t currently floss it’s a great opportunity to start. You have the extra time and once you’re in the habit you’ll like the extra clean feeling while also strengthening your gums!
If my child or I, are in orthodontic treatment, will missing appointments cause harm?
The simple answer is “No.” if it is not for a prolonged period of time. Your teeth will just stop moving at some point. Once elective procedures are allowed again, treatment can easily be restarted, and your teeth will start moving from right where they left off. If you have aligners you may be able to have a teledentistry consultation and we may possibly send you your next set of aligners. Otherwise, continue to use your current aligner. Even though your teeth will generally stop moving after a week or two in the same aligner, it will act as a retainer holding the teeth in place until you can be seen for your next aligner.
Stay home, stay safe, and know that we’re here for you
During this time that we’re all asked to stay home unless there is a dental emergency, which means pain or trauma, with basic home hygiene you can be comfortable that your dental health will be fine.
If you’re still confused or unclear as to whether you need to be seen in the office please call us on 0700dentist(07003368478), 08111131200 or visit our website www.choicedentalng.net
My staff and the dentists are here for you, as are our dental colleagues for patients all over the country and the world for that matter.
During this time there will be a lot of things that may seem different in the dental office, but as soon as the virus is under control and it is safe to return for normal dental treatment, we’ll be happy to welcome you back!
Stay safe and healthy!