COVID-19 has caused many dental offices nationwide to close for non-emergency care, but that doesn’t mean your dental health has to suffer during the pandemic. If you find yourself in need of dental care during the pandemic, it’s still possible to get it.
Dental care & COVID-19
A vast majority of dental offices across the United States have limited their services to emergency dental care. If you find yourself in need of an emergency dental procedure, contact your dental practice to find out whether your condition constitutes an emergency and whether they’re available to offer emergency treatment. If their dental office is completely closed, they may refer you to another provider if your condition requires urgent care. Emergency dental care is usually covered by most dental insurance plans, however, if you have to visit a different dentist, contact your provider to make sure you’ll still be covered.
Where to go for emergency dental care during COVID-19
If you’re experiencing a dental emergency that requires urgent care, you still can and should receive treatment. The American Dental Association defines a dental emergency as a condition that is “potentially life threatening and requires immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding or alleviate severe pain or infection”.
Dental emergencies include the following1:
- Uncontrollable bleeding
- Painful swelling in or around your mouth
- Tooth or jaw pain
- Painful or swollen gum infection
- Chipped or knocked out tooth
- Denture adjustment for cancer patients receiving radiation treatment
- After surgery treatment, such as a dressing change or stitch removal
- Adjusting wires that hurt your teeth or gums
- Biopsy of abnormal tissue
If you think you might be experiencing a dental emergency, here’s where to go for urgent dental care:
Contact your dentist
First, call your dentist. They will ask questions about your symptoms and your pain severity to determine whether your condition requires immediate care. If your dentist determines that you’re experiencing a dental emergency that requires urgent care, they’ll help you schedule an appointment to get the problem taken care of (or refer you to another practice if their office is closed). Emergency dental care is usually covered by most dental insurance plans, especially if you receive it from your usual dentist.
With modern technology, it’s possible to benefit from a dental professional’s expert knowledge without even leaving your home. Teledentistry is a method of delivering dental care to patients through the phone or the internet when the patient and dentist are in different physical locations. Teledentistry can help you access emergency dental care during the coronavirus outbreak. While certain procedures will still require an in-office visit, you may be able to receive the care you need through a teledentistry consultation. Contact your dentist to learn more.
If you’re experiencing severe dental pain, you may be able to visit an emergency walk-in dental clinic for immediate treatment. Many clinics are offering same-day emergency appointments, even if you’re not a current patient. But even if you’re in a rush, it’s a good idea to check with your dental insurance provider to make sure you’ll be covered if you visit a different dentist.
Under usual circumstances, it’s best to visit your dentist or the emergency room as soon as possible when you experience a dental emergency. However, during the pandemic, it’s important to keep local hospital beds free for COVID-19 patients. This is a major reason why the American Dental Association has advised dental practices to stay open to treat dental emergencies – to reduce the burden those dental emergencies might otherwise place on hospital emergency rooms.2 During COVID-19, it’s better to visit your dentist or an emergency walk-in dental clinic.
Where to go for non-emergency dental care during the pandemic
If you’re not experiencing a dental emergency, dentist offices are open for elective procedures in over 40 states.3 Call your dentist to learn more about their current situation and plans to reopen their doors to non-emergency patients. Your dentist may also be able to recommend at-home remedies for tooth pain, dental hygiene tips, or other advice for taking care of your teeth.
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.