What Is A Dental Emergency?

As we navigate the health crisis we are facing with COVID-19, patients are especially anxious about what is considered a dental emergency and what happens if they have one.

As of March 18, 2020, dentists are mandated by the Ohio Department of Health to delay all non-essential procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to mitigate the spread of this virus.  Dentists also are asked to continue performing emergency treatments and procedures to help alleviate the burden on hospitals and emergency rooms.  We believe this mandate is greatly needed to protect the health of our patients and our dental team.

Over the past few days, we have received many phone calls from concerned patients who are not sure if they have a dental emergency.  Outlined below are the very specific definitions of what constitutes an emergency as outlined by the American Dental Association.

According to the ADA, emergencies “are potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection.” The ADA also communicated that “dentists should use their professional judgment in determining a patient’s need for urgent or emergency care.”

So, what is considered a dental emergency and what does it mean for the patient?

We have listed below the differences between life-threatening emergencies and urgent emergencies according to the ADA. Also, please click read this ADA_COVID19_Dental_Emergency_DDS announcement for the complete ADA emergency definition and protocol.

 

Life-Threatening Dental Emergencies

These emergencies are potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection, and include: 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or a diffuse soft-tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that potentially compromises the patient’s airway
  • Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway

Urgent Dental Care Emergencies

These emergencies focus on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. These should be treated as minimally invasively as possible.

  • Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • Pericoronitis or third-molar pain
  • Surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing changes
  • Abscess, or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized
    pain and swelling
  • Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
  • Dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
  • Dental treatment required prior to critical medical procedures
  • Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation

Other Urgent Dental Care

  • Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
  • Manage with interim restorative techniques when possible (silver diamine fluoride, glass ionomers)
  • Suture removal
  • Denture adjustment on radiation/oncology patients
  • Denture adjustments or repairs when function impeded
  • Replacing temporary filling on endo access openings in patients experiencing pain
  • Snipping or adjustment of an orthodontic wire or appliances piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa

 At The Grove City Center for Dentistry, Dr. Bryan Simone, Dr. Kyle Lowe, and our team are abiding by these definitions when determining if a patient situation is considered an emergency. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our patients, staff, and families.

 

If you believe you are experiencing a dental emergency, please call our office at 614-875-3141 immediately so we can assess your symptoms and your overall health.  Additionally, please visit our COVID-19 web page for real-time updates. 

 

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