ADA Guidance on Emergency Care Through COVID-19 Crisis

The ADA provided its members and their patients a detailed guidance earlier this week on what to consider dental emergencies and non-emergency dental care. In addition, state mandates were issues for dental emergency care only. These mandates were issued as part of an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and alleviate the burden on hospital and emergency departments.
So, what constitutes as a dental emergency?

According to the ADA, dental emergencies “are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection.”Conditions include:

  • uncontrolled bleeding
  • cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intraoral or extraoral swelling that potentially compromises the patient’s airway
  • trauma involving facial bones that potentially compromises the patient’s airway.

Urgent dental care also constitutes as 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, such as:

  • 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
  • Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
  • Suture removal
  • 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

On the contrary, non-emergency dental procedures, that should not be administered at this time, include:

  • Initial or periodic oral examinations and recall visits, including routine radiographs
  • Routine dental cleaning and preventive therapies
  • Orthodontic procedures other than those to address acute issues (e.g. pain, infection, trauma)
  • Extraction of asymptomatic teeth
  • Restorative dentistry including treatment of asymptomatic carious lesions
  • Aesthetic dental procedures

We hope this offers some guidance on how to navigate this challenging time, while still being present for our patients that needs us. As mentioned in earlier posts, if you have closed your practice and would still like patients to have access, in case of a dental emergency, please feel free to offer Riverside Oral Surgery and our number River Edge Office Phone Number201-487-6565 as a resource – as we are open and only seeing patients for urgent and emergency care.

Be well and stay tunes for updates from Riverside Oral Surgery.


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