During this stage of the COVID19 pandemic, patients should only visit the dentist if they have a dental emergency. But patients want to know the answer to this big question: What constitutes a dental emergency that requires emergency dental treatment?
“Patients don’t realize they can leave word for me to call them to discuss their oral health concerns,” says Boynton Beach dentist, Dr. Jamie Alexander. “I try to call back promptly because, during these uncertain times, I don’t want my patients and other members of the community worrying unnecessarily about their mouths. We talk about what they are feeling and observing in their mouth that is of concern and the pros and cons of my seeing them for emergency care in my dental office. I help them understand what can wait; when to call back, for example, if discomfort increases or signs of infection become more evident; and what should be treated immediately to not further their body’s ability to fight infection and fight off a virus such as COVID19 if they are exposed to it.
“I don’t see patients for emergency care on a walk-in basis. Like you, I am sheltering in place, homeschooling my children, cleaning, cooking…doing the essentials, while protecting myself and my family from exposure to the virus. But, if you call, we will converse about what you are experiencing in your mouth, your potentially urgent need for diagnosis and treatment, the relative risks at this time, the safety precautions I have in place for seeing emergency patients one at a time, and then we will decide together if I should do emergency diagnosis and treatment.
“Dentists don’t want people to suffer, and we don’t want infection in your tooth or gum tissue to fester and compromise your whole-body wellness. I am doing my best to treat dental emergencies and alleviate traffic to hospital emergency rooms. So, I do want you to call me if you have a concern. People have different pain thresholds, and so something to keep in mind is that you may be postponing a call that could be helpful because you don’t want to bother me or you are afraid of exposure to COVID19 if you are treated for a dental emergency. We will talk it out, and I will not judge you for being concerned about your mouth, your vulnerability to COVID19, or anything else. You are still and always will be important to me.”