CDC Recommends Skipping Non Emergency Dental Visits For Now
I'm not normally one to advocate skipping your dentist appointments, but right now as long as you're not having unmanageable teeth pain the CDC recommends that maybe you postpone that non essential dental visit.
I don't normally recommend skipping the dentist because I learned the hard way. After having a particularly irritating dental visit in college I just stopped going. I told myself I was going to get a new dentist, but that never happened and the next time I saw a dentist he was recommending an extraction for a tooth that was bad and I couldn't afford to fix.
So yeah, I try to get to the dentist to have my cleanings done. And have spent a small fortune on getting cavities filled and crowns done to keep my teeth in decent shape. I'm not perfect, but I've learned a little pain now generally means pain free eating a little later. And as someone who enjoys food, that works for me.
However the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says right now, unless you're having a dental emergency it might be best to postpone going to the dentist. Why? Well when's the last time you've been to the dentist? There's a lot of saliva, some spit, a little bit of blood, and spray involved in the practice of dentistry.
And since COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets, the CDC thinks that perhaps sticking tools like drills and the thing I like to refer to as a water jet in someone's mouth isn't a good idea. Because it's those kind of instruments that cause the bits of saliva, spit, and spray that everyone gets on them and that might settle on the floor, the dental tray, the carpet, pretty much everything within a few feet of the patient There's a reason dental professionals wear masks, protective glasses and gloves and we get a bib when we visit the dentist. And remember, Dental Hygiene Professionals take these precautions in non pandemic times.
The bottom line, the less your dentist and staff are exposed to this, the less risk they have at being exposed to the cornavirus. And the less risk we have of being exposed to it at a dental visit.
If you'd like a more nuanced medical explanation on this you can read the CDC's guidance here.
So what constitutes a dental emergency? According to the ADA that would be uncontrolled bleeding in the mouth or gums, a bacterial infection in the mouth restricting someone's ability to breathe, trauma involving facial bones that could impact the patients airway.
Additionally care for a patient that relieves severe pain and or risk of infection or treatment that would keep them out of the hospital or seeking treatment at a hospital emergency room. There's even some more common issues the ADA considers a dental emergency, such as losing a temporary filling or a temporary crown that is causing significant pain or discomfort. Heck, even pokey brace wires digging into your cheek or gum is considered a dental emergency. If you want to see the entire ADA list you can read it here.
My advice. You do you. I'm willing to wait awhile to have some of my dental stuff done. But I'm not going to use this as an excuse to wait years to have my teeth maintained. Been there, done that, still paying for it. And if your mouth really hurts. Make the call and see someone. It'll make it easier to enjoy that pizza on Friday night.