Why is my dental office closed?
In order to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, the American Dental Association announced that their official recommendation to all dental practices is to reschedule all elective care for three weeks. Most practices are heeding these recommendations, hence why your dental office is likely closed for everything except emergencies. Instruments used in dentistry cause a lot of aerosolized water particles which has been shown to be a method of transmission of COVID-19, and could possibly stay in the air for hours afterward. With the volume of patients an average dental office sees, your dentist has likely closed their office to help flatten the curve of transmission and keep their staff, patients, and community safe.
How long will my dental office be closed?
The official ADA recommendation is three weeks from March 17, 2020. However various states, like Washington, have already issued mandates for dental offices to close for elective care for upwards of one month. It is our expectation that most states will follow suit in the coming weeks and is unlikely that your dental office will be “back to normal” for at least one to two months. Dental Designs of White Marsh is closed until April 6th, however we will be re-evaluating the situation as it evolves and possibly close for a longer period of time if need be. This is a constantly changing situation of which there is no precedent; we hope to open as soon as it is safe for our team and community, and advisable to do so.
How do I stay in touch with my dentist?
Many dentists now have active social media accounts, and the best way to stay abreast of developments is to follow or like them on their pages. Dental Designs of White Marsh will be providing frequent updates and live videos with question and answer sessions as the sitaution evolves, you can follow us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/dentaldesignsofwhitemarsh/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/dentaldesignswm/).
Why it is important to social distance?
The goal of social distancing is to limit social interactions you have with those around you. This serves to slow the projected number of people who contract COVID-19 at any given time, hence ‘flattening the curve’ of infection. This will ensure that our healthcare professionals are not overrun by a sharp increase in COVID-19 patients, without the necessary supplies, infrastructure, and facilities to care for them. Your dentist office has closed to help flatten the curve, as dental offices can potentially be a major source of transmission for the virus.
What is ‘elective care’?
Elective care is not a clearly defined term in dentistry, and the ADA has not issued any specific guidance on what falls under elective care. In general, all dentistry that is not performed due to pain, swelling, infection, or a loss in function is considered elective care. That means dental prophylaxis (cleanings), cosmetic dentistry, crowns and fillings that are not currently symptomatic, dentures, etc could potentially be considered elective care and rescheduled by your dentist. There is no set definition so your dentist will determine what qualifies as an emergency. Our general guideline is that if the symptoms you are experiencing could possibly send you to the ER or an urgent care center, that would likely qualify as an emergency. Please give your dentist a call and you will be evaluated for treatment.
What is ’emergency care’?
Emergency care is not a clearly defined term in dentistry, and the ADA has not issued any specific guidance on what falls under emergency care. In general, if you are experiencing pain, swelling, infection, or a loss in function, that would fall under emergency care. There is no set definition so your dentist will determine what qualifies as an emergency. Our general guideline is that if the symptoms you are experiencing could possibly send you to the ER or an urgent care center, that would likely qualify as an emergency. Please give your dentist a call and you will be evaluated for treatment.
What do I do if I’m having dental pain?
During this time most dental offices remain open on a limited basis to see emergencies. If you are having pain, swelling, infection, or a loss in function you may be eligible for care. If you have an established general dentist, please call their office for guidance. Many dental practices have also put announcements on their social media with even the dentists cell phone number, to help triage any emergencies during this time. Our suggestion is to establish a method of contact with your general dental office. If you do not have an established general dentist or cannot get in contact with them, you may call our practice at the phone number listed in the menu above, we have operators available six days a week and will be seeing patients on an emergency basis.
What precautions do I need to take before going to the dentist?
If you have a dental emergency and are appointed to go see your dentist, there are several precautions you should take. It is of the utmost importance to inform your dentist if you have been experiencing fever, chills, respiratory distress, high temperature, or any other signs of illness. It is also important for you to inform your dentist if you’ve traveled internationally or been on a cruise in the past 90 days. Most offices have protocols set in place to process patients, however we recommend calling the office once you’ve arrived and waiting in your car until you’re ready to be seen. We recommend you to wash your hands before and after your dental appointment, and limiting your physical interactions such as handshakes and hugs is also a good idea.
My dental office is still open, is it safe to go if I just need a cleaning?
It is our strong recommendation due to the nature of dental work that you reschedule all non-emergency appointments. The vast majority of dental work, including your routine cleanings, creates aerosolized water particles which has been shown to be a method of transmission for COVID-19 and can possibly stay in the air for hours. It is our opinion that any dental office that is open for non-emergency care during this time is putting their staff, patients, and members of their community at high risk for transmission.
How do I maintain my dental health at home during this time?
It is important especially during times of stress that we make sure to take care of ourselves. Your mouth is a portal to the rest of your body and can have pronounced effects on your overall health if neglected. If your dental appointment has been rescheduled or moved indefinitely, it is even more important that you maintain your dental care during this time. We recommend the basics of brushing twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. For those with significant dental work, a Waterpik also may be beneficial. Your diet also has a huge impact on your dental health. We recommend limiting your intake of refined sugars like soda, candy, and cookies as much as possible, and instead make sure you diet consists of as many green leafy vegetables and lean protein such as chicken, turkey, and fish as possible. Dairy has been tentatively linked to having anti-cavity properties so if you’re aching to satisfy that sweet tooth, some Greek yogurt may hit the spot as well!