Dentistry during pandemic

Wednesday, April 29, 2020
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

dentist office dental careWhile some states and cities are reopening various establishments, people may still have to wait to see a dentist.

"Because of COVID-19, all dental offices in the country have been called to be closed, except for emergency purposes," says William Griffin, DDS, vice president for dental ministries with Christian Medical and Dental Associations.

What classifies as an emergency is somewhat a matter of opinion from both a patient and provider standpoint, but Dr. Griffin says typical dental emergencies might fall into three categories: Pain, swelling, or perhaps a broken tooth.

"Of these three -- swelling -- is the one most likely to need to be addressed, because swelling can indicate infection, which should be treated at least with an antibiotic," the dentist continues. "With respect to pain, the biggest question is is that pain provoked or unprovoked?"

In other words, is it just sensitivity to hot or cold, or is it a throbbing that might keep a person awake at night? According to Dr. Griffin, the unprovoked pain is the one that needs to be evaluated right away, as it can often be a sign of an abscessed tooth.

Griffin

"With respect to a broken tooth, if it's just a broken tooth that's a bit sharp to the tongue, that's the type of thing that is not a real dire emergency that can probably wait until offices reopen," adds Dr. Griffin. "But if that broken tooth is accompanied by pain of the unprovoked variety, then that is the kind of situation that should be evaluated right away."

If a patient has what he or she thinks might be a dental emergency in need of immediate evaluation, Dr. Griffin urges that patient to contact a dentist, as most cases can be discussed over the phone and perhaps dealt with temporarily by a prescription.

"But if the patient does need to be seen," he adds, "the dentist can make that decision, and they can arrange an appropriate time."

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