During COVID, it is wise to limit your interactions with others, including the dentist and your doctor. You have to strike a careful balance between keeping your mouth healthy but not exposing yourself or your dentist to unnecessary risk.
Ideally, you will keep up with your general oral hygiene and see what your dentist recommends in terms of your checkups. Some dentists are suggesting increased intervals between checkups and cleanings for patients with overall healthy mouths, and all have safety measures in place.
But when should you go to the dentist during COVID? What constitutes a dental emergency?
When to Call the Dentist
The following situations are urgent, and you will likely want to visit your dentist, Dr. Dhiraj Sharma, for them, even during the pandemic. Always call the dentist first to confirm they can take care of you at the moment while maintaining distancing and safety guidelines. Dental emergencies include:
- Bleeding from trauma.
- A tooth knocked out of its socket and resulting trauma.
- Bleeding after a tooth extraction.
- Significant tooth pain that prevents eating or sleeping, with swelling and/or fever.
- Swelling in the face that reaches your neck or eye.
Skip the dentist completely and go to the emergency room if you have a dental emergency that includes:
- Trauma that results in vomiting, double vision, or loss of consciousness
- Swelling in the face that does not let you open your mouth more than two fingers wide or is affecting your vision
The following situations are non-urgent dental emergencies. In these cases, you will likely want to contact your dentist to see when they can attend to the issue, but they may advise you to wait a while and treat it at home. These situations include:
- Loose wires on orthodontics
- Chipped teeth without pain
- Rubbing, loose, or broken dentures
- Lost or loose veneers, bridges, or crowns
- Lost, loose, or broken fillings
- Bleeding gums
What to Do About Common Dental Issues During COVID
If you are dealing with minor dental issues during COVID, you can try to resolve them at home before contacting your dentist to reduce the risk of virus exposure. When in doubt, you can always ask your dentist for advice, even for at-home care. The following are suggestions for certain situations.
Dental Pain Without Swelling
If there is no swelling, you should get relief from over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Dental Pain With Swelling
If there is swelling, combine the over-the-counter medicine with a warm saltwater rinse. Call your dentist if the pain and/or swelling continue.
Pain in the Lips, Tongue, Cheeks, or Gums
You can try an over-the-counter medicated gel, of which there are several.
Lost Fillings, Bridges, or Crowns, or Fractured Teeth
You may not realize it, but there are over-the-counter temporary fillings available at pharmacies. Just remember that these are short-term solutions, and you will eventually need to visit your dentist.
If you have issues with your dentures, you can find a denture repair or reline kit at the pharmacy. Once again, you will eventually need to visit your dentist to correct this problem, but you can delay doing so, if necessary, with these kits.
Remember that the above is just general advice. Whenever you are in doubt, ask your dentist. They will let you know over the phone whether your issue warrants a visit or you should try other options first.