Maybe you’ve noticed that you’re overdue for a dental cleaning and haven’t gotten a reminder card in the mail yet. Or perhaps you’ve tried to call the office to schedule tooth whitening, only to be told that those appointments are on hold. The developing COVID-19 situation has changed many things, including how we practice dentistry.
Current social distancing rules and the doctor’s discretion determine what we’re allowed to do. Although the office is still available for emergencies, you might be confused about what constitutes a dental emergency. Dr. Thomas Sokoly of Sokoly Dental offers this helpful guide explaining what you need to know about dental care in the age of COVID-19.
Guidelines protect both you and dental staff
Dr. Sokoly always cares about his patients and looks forward to your visits. However, the growing number of COVID-19 cases has changed the way we practice dentistry. Our guidelines about how to treat dental patients during this time are determined by the recommendations of the American Dental Association and are for your protection.
What this means is that any non-emergency treatments will likely be postponed until this crisis is over. Non-emergency treatments include the following:
- Regular exams
- Check-ups about braces
- Tooth whitening
- Some types of restorative work, such as bridges and crowns
- Bonding or veneers, except in emergency cases
- Removal of teeth that aren’t causing pain
- Treatment of cavities that aren’t causing pain
If you do come into the office with an emergency, you’ll likely notice some changes in place. For example, we may take your temperature before seeing you and ask if you’ve recently had a fever or cough. We may also limit the number of people in the waiting room, possibly to only yourself, or take you directly back to an exam room. This helps to keep up with the recommended social distancing rules.
What constitutes a dental emergency
Dr. Sokoly still wants you to call the office immediately with any type of dental emergency. Dental emergencies can get worse if not quickly addressed. He may choose to either see you in person or address your issues over the phone.
Signs that you have a dental emergency include some of the following:
- Broken or knocked-out tooth
- Painful swelling in or around your mouth
- Bleeding that doesn’t stop
- Signs of an abscess (infection), such as pus or swelling
- Pain in a tooth or in your jawbone
- Treatment after surgery, such as removal of stitches or dressing change
- Braces with a wire that’s come loose, poking your mouth or cheek
- Denture adjustments for people with cancer who are undergoing radiation therapy
These dental emergencies always warrant a call to the office and will be dealt with promptly.
How to prevent COVID-19
Right now, the best way to prevent COVID-19 is to stay at home as much as possible. Limit your contact with other people outside your home. If you have to go outside, you must wear a mask (it’s the law!). Medical-grade masks aren’t necessary; a simple cloth mask will do.
Make sure to practice thorough handwashing as well. Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds multiple times a day, especially after you return home from being out. Avoid touching your face while you’re in public.
If you think that you have COVID-19, it’s important to be in touch with your primary doctor. Symptoms of this virus include fever and cough, although it’s important not to panic because many respiratory illnesses (and even allergies) can also cause these symptoms.
Don’t worry: you can still keep up with regular cleanings and cosmetic treatments once we’re all safe from this virus, but be sure to contact Dr. Sokoly right away if you’re experiencing a dental emergency. Call our office at 202-280-2428 or request a call back online.