An open letter to my patients:
My team has asked me to delineate, exactly, what is meant by Emergency vs. Non-Emergency Care for our patients. So I will do my best to summarize the current ADA definitions here:
EMERGENCY DENTAL CARE–You should already be calling me about these. Most of these concerns will be referred to a hospital emergency room, but call me first if you have any doubts or questions.
- Uncontrolled bleeding in or from the mouth
- Cellulitis/abscess with swelling inside or outside of the mouth—especially if there is difficulty breathing because of the swelling
- Trauma involving the facial bones, potentially compromising the airway
URGENT DENTAL CARE–Care that focuses on conditions that cause severe pain or infection risk and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments.
- Severe dental pain from an infected nerve, that is not alleviated by:
- avoidance of stimulatory insult (e.g. ice/cold water)
- anti-inflammatory medication (e.g. ibuprofen, naprosyn)
- Third molar pain and/or swelling
- Post-surgical pain from extractions, gum surgery or other oral surgery
- Abscess, or localized bacterial infection that results in localized pain/swelling in the gums
- Tooth fracture resulting in pain or soft tissue trauma
- Dental trauma (partially or completely “knocked out” tooth/teeth)
- Final crown cementation if the temporary crown is lost/broken
POSSIBLY URGENT DENTAL CARE–Overdue deferred or neglected dental conditions or care that is needed after dental treatment was previously administered:
- Extensive or rampant tooth decay
- Pain caused by a filling/crown that is high
- Suture removal
- Denture adjustments for issues that impede function or for radiation/chemotherapy patients
- Replacement of temporary fillings for root canal access
- Over extended orthodontic wires/appliances that pierce or ulcerate the cheek or gums.
DENTAL NON-EMERGENCY PROCEDURES–Most likely, any appointment you scheduled previously can fit in to this category. Please do NOT call my personal cell phone about these appointments, call the office: 603-882-3001. I or one of my team members will address your question or concern as soon as possible.
- New patient or routine examination
- Routine dental prophylaxis (“cleaning”) and preventive therapy
- Orthodontic procedures
- Extraction of teeth without swelling or symptoms
- Restorative dental care: fillings, crowns, veneers, dentures
- All cosmetic procedures.
As you are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the health and normalcy of our entire world. The practitioners of dentistry live on the front lines of infectious disease exposure due to the very nature of our profession. We have, however, successfully managed infectious disease transmission in dentistry since the mid-1980s AIDS/HIV outbreak with the standard implementation of “universal precautions” that consist of autoclave instrument sterilization, regular use of “single-use” items, frequent hand washing, glove use, mask use, protective eyewear (for both provider and patient) and isolation methods like rubber dam use during restorative procedures.
We are adapting to incorporate additional changes that will further limit the risk of the highly contagious COVID-19 viral disease transmission. We have all been asked to sacrifice something for the greater good. The ADA and its subsidiary state dental associations have agreed to a plan that recommends all elective dental procedures be postponed for a minimum of two to three weeks in order for the profession of dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Until further notice, we have eliminated the in-office “waiting room” in order to abide by the CDC recommendations of “social distancing.” We will use this currently recommended protocol established in Seattle for our office:
- Patients are asked to “check-in” to the office by text or call from their car.
- Patients are asked to please wait in their car until advised by text or call that we have a treatment room prepared to see them.
- A staff member will greet the patient at the door and record their body temperature.
- During the current outbreak, those with a fever in excess of 100F or flu-like symptoms will be asked to return to their car and await a teleconference with me in order to assess their needs and to alleviate pain.
- Those patients without a fever will be escorted directly into the treatment room for final triage and palliative treatment measures.
Please know that I and my extraordinary team are committed to deliver to you, our patients, the best dental care possible in the safest and most expeditious manner possible. We are making sacrifices on behalf of the greater good of our patients, our practice, our neighbors and our nation, please help us help you.
Feel free to explore my blog and get more information about our practice. I look forward to hearing from you and being “back in the saddle” again soon.
Thank you. Be well and be safe.
Beyond Just Smiles