What closing dental clinics for coronavirus means for patients

As COVID-19 continued to spread, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning any unnecessary, elective, or elective medical procedures in Florida.

But dentists, like other healthcare professionals, can still see critically ill patients today.

“We also have our part to do because we want to try to prevent patients who may be in an emergency from going to the emergency room for dental treatment and from mixing with patients who go to the emergency room for treatment. symptoms of COVID. -19, ”said Dr. Rudy Liddell, president of the Florida Dental Association.

Before the order was placed by DeSantis, the American Dental Association had already recommended postponing elective procedures and focusing only on emergency cases.

To further educate dentists, the association hosted a webinar featuring screening protocols and procedures that could be followed during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as a dedicated resources page regarding the virus.

While there is no exact definition of what a dental emergency is, the American Dental Association has created a guide to provide some clarification. These emerging or urgent cases include dental or facial trauma, dental fractures, uncontrolled bleeding, dental pain or swelling that could be caused by or lead to infection, and conditions that could block patients’ airways.

For his part, Liddell considers emergency procedures to be based on the severity the condition might have on the patient. For example, if a person has a cavity that could become infected before the order is complete, then they could come to the office. If a tooth flakes off and is sharp enough to damage tissue, the patient may seek medical attention.

Liddell suggests that all patients ask themselves one question before going to a clinic: Is your problem something that you think you can endure for a period of 45 days?

“If the answer to that question is yes, I can, I can tolerate this, then they won’t be seen,” Liddell said. “But if they say no, this thing is killing me, my tongue is swollen, I can’t eat, that’s something we would see.”

And while routine procedures like cleanings and dental checkups aren’t treated as emergencies, there can always be exceptions. Take for example, said Liddell, someone whose cardiologist needs to make sure a patient’s mouth is free from disease before prescribing medication.

“So this is someone who, by having their teeth cleaned, affects their overall health,” he said.

The best thing for patients to do is to contact their dentist and ask if their situation is an emergency.

Some patients worry about possible exposure to the coronavirus when they go to a dentist. But Liddell says that since the AIDS epidemic practicing dentistry has dramatically improved their hygiene, so they need to be prepared for the virus.

“All of our rooms are fully disinfected with disinfectants approved to kill TB viruses,” Liddell said. “All of our instruments are disposable or heat sterilizable and all of our staff wear personal protective equipment with each patient. Due to the infection control procedures we have in place in our dental offices, the dental office will remain a safe place to receive treatment. “

For updates regarding dental procedures in Florida during the coronavirus, visit the Florida Dental Association’s coronavirus page.

Larry A. Schroeder