Dental Emergencies | In the Time of the Coronavirus – What Ifs?

It’s human nature to worry about the ‘What Ifs’. What if I go on a trip and leave something important at home? What if I don’t do well on a test, a presentation, an interview? What if I forget a birthday, an anniversary, an important meeting? But today we have much more important ‘What Ifs’ to consider. Be it – What If I become ill? Or – What if my job is not secure? And while we wish we could be of assistance with answers to these, and other pressing and important questions that will arise during this pandemic, there are a couple of ‘What If’ questions we can answer. Those are: What is a dental emergency? And, What if I have a dental emergency?

It’s almost been a month since the CDC, the ADA (the American Dental Association) and the U.S. government recommended that dental offices restrict appointments to emergency care only until further notice. Though we understand that this is a disruption for patients scheduled for treatment, we concur that this action has been essential to help control the spread of the Coronavirus. Hopefully, taking these precautions will increase the opportunity to ‘open the doors’ sooner, so that we can see patients safely for general care, when deemed reasonable to do so by the experts.

So, what is a dental emergency? In the past, the definition of ‘emergency’ at Colony Square Dental Associates was somewhat broad; we always did our utmost to accommodate our patient’s perception as to what they felt was an emergency. These emergencies could range from teeth that are discolored with a wedding around the corner, to a tiny chip off of a tooth, to a patient up all evening in pain from a tooth that had abscessed and needed either a root canal or an extraction ASAP. However, with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, in order to help preserve the health and safety of both our patients and our treatment team, we are using the newly released ADA guide on ‘Dental Emergencies’ to help provide us with some direction as to what is emergency, urgent and routine care. And while these provide a framework, as always, the best way for our patients of record to determine if an emergency office visit is needed is through speaking with us. While today this conversation may incorporate use of a cell phone or a Zoom Video chat, which now have a name – ‘Teledentistry’, it’s the old-fashioned phone call to get started. Both Dr. Hochberg and Dr. Diora are available to speak with you. Give the office a call (404-874-6464) for directions as to how to reach them. Or contact us via email: [email protected]; both emails and phone messages are checked periodically throughout the day.

And should you need to visit our office for emergency care, we want you to be assured that we while we have always followed standard universal precautions issued by the ADA such as:

· Single-use gloves and masks when treating patients

· An open-concept sterilization bay, designed to sequence the processing of instrumentation is based on aseptic protocol. Visible to all, our state-of-the-art center is equipped with an ultrasonic cleaner, an automated instrument washer, autoclaves, individual instrument cassette packaging with sterile verifying tape, verified by Emory, complies with OSHA and ADA standards

· Autoclave sterilization (a high-pressure steam oven) of instruments after each use, which kills infectious organisms, including Coronavirus

· Thorough wipe-down of all dental operatories, after each patient visit, with a medical-grade surface disinfectant

· Disinfection of clinicians’ hands following the CDC hand-washing technique or an alcohol based antiseptic cleaning solution prior to gloving

In addition to our everyday efforts to offer care in a safe environment, supplementary precautions were implemented as recommended by the ADA. These additional protocols include:

· Pre-screening patients: Let us know if you have a cough, fever, or chills or experienced those symptoms within the past two weeks. If you have been around anyone who has, or has been exposed, to the virus. If you have traveled/resided away from your home within the past two weeks.

· We ask patients to social distance: Should you come for emergency care, please show up no earlier than 10 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment. If a driver accompanies you, we ask that they remain in the car or 100 building lobby during care.

· Touch point items have minimized as well. Our front office will check in for you; magazines, newspapers and our coffee machine, have been removed. We will provide you with a new pen, to take with you, should any paperwork be needed; bottle waters are available – will be placed on the counter-top by team members, wearing gloves, so you can remain hydrated. Periodically we will wipe all common surfaces with a CDC approved disinfectant. Extra hand-sanitizers will be placed throughout our office for your convenience.

We care about all of our patients and hope that you, your family and your friends remain in good health. If you have any questions, we are here for you; don’t hesitate to reach out.

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