What Is a True Dental Emergency While Under a Stay-at-Home Order?

Family, Informative
dental emergency

At this time, following Michigan’s stay-at-home order and isolating yourself from others is the best way to protect your family and your community from COVID-19. In order to reduce the spread of the virus and protect our patients’ and employees’ health, we are rescheduling all routine dental appointments. If your child is due for a checkup or requires a minor dental procedure like a filling, it can likely wait — but we are aware that some dental emergencies may occur during the stay-at-home order.

In the case of a dental emergency, you should call your (or your child’s) dental office and follow the prompts. But what constitutes a dental emergency? Take a look.

1. Severe Toothaches

If you or your child have a severe toothache, this may indicate an infection of the tooth pulp, which can be quite serious since the infection could spread to surrounding tissues, including the blood. Definitely call the dentist; antibiotics and an emergency root canal may be performed.

2. Post-Surgical Pain

If you or your child had a dental surgery performed recently, such as an extraction or wisdom tooth extraction, severe pain at the operation site is considered a dental emergency. You may have dry socket, a condition in which the blood clot falls out of the empty tooth socket, exposing the nerve. The dentist may need to pack the surgical site and prescribe pain relievers.

3. Fractured Tooth

If you or your child crack a tooth to the degree that it is causing pain, this is probably due to exposed tooth pulp. Prompt treatment is needed to save a tooth in this case, so you definitely want to call about emergency dental care. The same is true if you or your child chip a tooth badly. Tiny chips that don’t extend through the enamel are not a major concern, but a large chip that causes pain or bleeding is a dental emergency.

4. Lost Bridge or Crown

If you have a bridge, crown, or other dental restoration and it falls off or out, this is considered a dental emergency during the stay-at-home order. Exposure of the tooth beneath the restoration could lead to lasting damage, so you need to call a dentist promptly to have the restoration replaced, even if a temporary restoration is used for the time being.

5. Abscess or Infection

If you or your child notice a pocket of pus or an abscess inside the mouth, this is a dental emergency that may require treatment with antibiotics or a root canal procedure.

The American Dental Association has offered guidance for dental professionals during the COVID-19 outbreak and associated stay-at-home orders. We use that guidance to inform our policies. When it is safe to do so, we will continue offering routine dental care for new and existing patients, but for the time being, we encourage you to stay at home, stay safe, and only contact us in case of a true emergency.


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