According to an order released by the government of Ontario, all businesses deemed as “non-essential” must temporarily shut down during the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic. Some dental offices across Toronto are in this list.
However, based on the province’s list of “essential” businesses, health care professionals that deliver emergency care like dentists are allowed to continue operating. This means that anyone with a non-urgent dental concern will have to wait for a few more weeks (or until the COVID-19 situation lets up) before having their issues addressed.
Why Avoid Dental Visits?
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is transmitted through respiratory droplets. These droplets are likely to fly through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This can cause a person to get sick when they ingest the contaminated air. Saliva and mucus in the mouth and throat are fluids that dentists and their tools are often exposed to. And some dental devices can spread droplets of these fluids around the clinic.
Moreover, many dental offices may not be thoroughly protected from viruses because:
- Many clinics don’t have isolation rooms for airborne infection
- Most offices don’t have individualized rooms for every client
- Most clinics don’t have enough supply of N95 face masks
When people skip regular treatments, dentists are better able to focus on providing emergency care. This minimizes trips to the hospital where patients positive for COVID-19 and other serious health conditions are being treated.
What Are Non-Urgent Treatments?
Also known as elective procedures, non-urgent treatments are any dental work not currently affecting your health. These are treatments you can always reschedule for another time.
Examples of these are:
- Routine dental exams or cleanings
- Teeth whitening
- Braces checkup and adjustment
- Fixing problems related to dental cosmetics
What Problems Are Considered an “Emergency”?
You are entitled to immediate care if you’re experiencing a serious dental problem. Any dental problem that threatens your health and well-being needs to be looked at by the dentist right away.
In urgent cases, you must seek dental care for:
- Serious and persistent tooth or mouth pain
- Tissue that requires biopsy
- Swollen gums, face, mouth, or neck
- Bleeding that won’t stop
- Chipped off/broken teeth that cause discomfort or tissue damage
- Post-surgery care that can’t be done at home
- A lost or broken dental crown
- Dental procedures related to cancer treatment
- Broken wires in your braces that hurt
- Trauma to the mouth that may cause breathing problems
- Dentures that don’t work properly
Before heading to the clinic, it’s best to contact your dentist first. Ask them about the coverage of the treatment you need. If they’re not able to attend to your emergency, consider going to the urgent care centre or to the hospital. You can search for an emergency dentist in your area here.
Most important, inform your dentist if you have COVID-19 or suspect you do. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Your dentist can take special action to reduce the possibility that the virus will spread. They can refer you to a doctor and get you the appropriate care.