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How to Handle Dental Emergencies During COVID-19

By Shelby Tatomir on April 8, 2020 in Healthy Living


Dental emergencies can be just as frightening as medical emergencies, especially during a pandemic.

Just like other important parts of the body, the mouth is subject to accidents. Sometimes the injury can be as minor as biting your tongue. Other times, the injury is more serious and requires professional care. By educating ourselves on how to handle a dental emergency during COVID-19, we can remain calm and in control. Research shows that, in the face of an emergency, education helps us remain calm. This is how lifeguards and paramedics are able to do their jobs.

Dental emergencies can be just as frightening as medical emergencies. Learn what a dental emergency is and how to handle it during a pandemic. Pain and stress can cause trouble thinking clearly. Educate yourself before you’re in the midst of a dental emergency for the best possible outcome.

Dental Visits During a Pandemic

As of March 2020, the CDC has issued a recommendation to the public to hold off on routine dental care visits. Routine dental visits are when you go to the dentist and don’t have pain or a problem to correct. The American Dental Association (ADA) has also advised dentists to limit appointments to emergency dental care during this time. Minimizing traffic in a dental office will help slow the spread of germs and is part of the effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

Reschedule the following dental services for a later date:

  • Regular visits for exams, cleanings, and x-rays
  • Regular visits for braces
  • Removal of teeth that aren’t causing pain
  • Treatment of cavities that aren’t causing pain
  • Teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures

The ADA recommends that you contact your dentist at this time if you experience:

  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop
  • Painful swelling in or around your mouth
  • Pain in a tooth, teeth, or jawbone
  • Gum infection with pain or swelling
  • After surgery treatment (dressing change, stitch removal)
  • Broken or knocked out tooth
  • Denture adjustment for people receiving radiation or other treatment for cancer
  • Snipping or adjusting wire of braces that hurts your check or gums
  • Biopsy of abnormal tissue

If your dental office is closed, we can assist you in finding care by calling our provider services team at 800-544-0718.

Visit an Emergency Room if you experience:

  • Head or eye injury
  • Concussion/confusion
  • Broken bones and dislocated joints
  • Severe cuts that may require stitches
  • Facial lacerations

Common Types of Dental Emergencies: 

  1. Lost Tooth: If a permanent tooth is knocked out, time is of the essence. You may be able to re-implant the tooth. In order to give you the best chance, call your dentist immediately and try to visit a dentist as soon as possible. Transport your tooth in a glass of milk if available. If not, a glass of saltwater will do.
  2. Toothaches: While toothaches aren't necessarily an emergency, they can sometimes be painful and make you uncomfortable. Try washing your mouth with warm saltwater and taking an over the counter pain medication. Contact your dentist for an appointment as soon as possible.
  3. Broken or Fractured Jaw – If you have a broken jaw, you will likely feel pain in the face or jaw and have swelling and bruising. Your jaw may not work properly or misalign teeth. To control swelling, apply a cold compress. Stabilize the jaw using a bandage wrapped beneath the jaw and tied on top of the head and get to the nearest emergency room quickly.

Familiarity with how to handle a dental emergency will help you or someone you love to recover more quickly and easily. 

For more information on maintaining your oral health during a pandemic, check out: