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WHAT IS A DENTAL EMERGENCY?

April 3rd, 2020

From the Desk of Stuart F. Fass, D.D.S.

With the government and Dental Society recommending that dental offices suspend regular appointments somewhat indefinitely, the concern remains over dental emergency procedures.  Patients with dental problems showing up at the emergency room has been an ongoing problem.  It is a very poor use of resources for the hospital, and generally there is no dentist available to resolve the problem.  These visits often result in antibiotic and pain medication prescriptions being written with the advice to see a dentist.  With the current pandemic, it is even more critical that we not tie up critical hospital resources with dental problems.  If you are a patient of record, call our office and follow the directions to receive attention.  All dentists should be making provisions for their own patients.
What constitutes an emergency?  True dental emergencies are rare; uncontrolled bleeding, cellulitis or facial swelling that may compromise the airway, or facial trauma that may compromise the airway.  Beside these extremes, most problems are considered urgencies.  They are conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and will be treated as minimally invasively as possible.  Wisdom tooth pain, dental abscess with pain and/or swelling, dental trauma, treatment for medical reasons, final crown cementation if there is a problem with the temporary, and biopsy of suspicious tissue are some examples of urgencies.  Other procedures are left up to your dentist to decide what is urgent.  A sharp broken tooth, a denture sore or repair, a lost temporary filling on a recent root canal tooth, and orthodontic appliances causing sores or ulcerations fall into this category.
We can’t stress enough that unless you have a life threatening situation, your first phone call should be to your dental office for dental problems.  You will be screened on the phone to make sure that you have not been exposed to the COVID-19 virus and that you have no respiratory symptoms.  We are trying to keep our office safe while still ensuring that our patients don’t have to endure the current crisis with dental concerns added to the already stressful situation.
Be well and STAY SAFE!

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