Emergency Dental Care: Getting Dental Treatment During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Emergency dental patient in need of dental treatment

You probably already know it. That the dull ache underneath that tooth won’t subside on its own. That chipped tooth will only get worse if it continues to go untreated. That uncomfortable sensitivity to hot or cold food or drink will only increase in severity. Yet, as the world hunkers down to wait out the current coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, many Americans are wrestling with a crucial question, “is my dental problem urgent enough to seek treatment now?”

Find out what qualifies a dental emergency during the Covid-19 outbreak and take a look at what dental offices are doing to accommodate people just like you who need emergency dental services.

Note: This content does not constitute medical advice. Talk with your primary care physician about your personal risks to the Covid-19 outbreak to inform your decision of whether or not you’re healthy enough to interact with strangers.

Can I See a Dentist If I Have to Shelter in Place?

Yes, you can still see a dentist if your issue qualifies. Emergency dental care is considered an essential service during this outbreak. However, the American Dental Association has called on dentists nationwide to suspend all elective procedures.

In states and municipalities under order to shelter in place, dentists have been urged by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to suspend non-emergency dental services to limit person-to-person contact.

What Qualifies as a Dental Emergency?

Broadly, a dental emergency is any oral-facial issue, including facial trauma, that is extremely time sensitive – that is, any issue affecting your mouth or facial bones that’ll become much worse if you don’t act soon.

The things that make a dental issue an emergency are elevated pain and increased vulnerability:

What Should I Do If I’m on a long-term treatment plan?

Call your dentist to get guidance on what you can do at home to maintain the progress you’ve made during treatment until normalcy returns and you can resume treatment. If your treatment is considered an “elective procedure,” your emergency dentist will likely ask you to hold off until they restore normal operations.

What If My Issue is Urgent, But Not an Emergency?

Consider telemedicine. As movement across the country continues to tighten, dentists are increasingly adjusting to these limitations by offering virtual consultations. You may be able to get a preliminary exam via a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer equipped with a camera and microphone. It may be the next best thing to a 24-hour emergency dentist for the time being.

What Can I Do At Home If I’m in Self-Isolation Due to the Coronavirus?

The best things you can do to maintain your dental health at home are pretty much things we should all be doing daily: brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash twice every day.

What Are Dental Offices Doing to Minimize the Risk of Infection for Patients and Staff?

Like other small and midsize businesses, emergency dentists have been following the CDC’s Infection Control guidelines to minimize the risk of spreading Covid-19.

These measures include increasing the frequency of cleaning, taking extra care in sanitizing high tough points and minimizing person to person contact. Some dental offices are updating their websites with projected wait times for patients and are offering virtual consultations.

Does a Local Emergency Dentist Cost More?

Does a Local Emergency Dentist Cost More?

One of the biggest thoughts that most people have when they are thinking of going to an emergency dentist is whether or not it is going to break the bank. It is hard to not think you are going to pay a lot of money for emergency care, which tends to stop people from seeking emergency dental help.

Depending on the dental work, an emergency dentist does not have to be more expensive.

Because it is on the spot dental care, some work may be costlier, but often times than not, it won’t be as expensive as the common thought. In most cases, for a local emergency dentist you are going to pay roughly the same or even less when you are going to get work done.

It is always important to be careful when you are looking around for a local emergency dentist. Still be sure to take your time to check their qualifications before letting them come near you and perform any dental work or procedures.

Where to Look

When it comes to where you should be looking for a local emergency dentist, you can always start by asking around to your family and friends, and seeing whether or not they have ever been in this situation and needed to get into a dentist fast. If they have needed an emergency dentist themselves, they would be a good person to give you honest advice.

Another place to look would be your own dentist. You may or may not know if they are an emergency dentist – but if they are not, they can give you someone as a recommendation so you can keep their number on hand.

Going to a local emergency dentist is often more than a choice, but is usually a necessity. Most regular dentists are only open from morning to late afternoon, so if you have anything happen to you after those hours, then it is good to have an emergency dentist on hand.

Ask your dentist for recommendations, or find out if they have emergency dental times. You may be surprised at the information you receive.