Should I Go to the Dentist During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Last Editorial Review: 3/27/2020

Ask the experts

Should I go to the doctor or dentist for non-urgent appointments during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak? Should I postpone my elective surgery?

Doctor's Response

Actually, most of the states have cut down on any elective surgeries, including dentistry. If you can avoid that, plan it for a later date. In fact, they’ve asked dentists and other professionals who use personal protective equipment to donate it to hospitals.

If you have an emergency, say, you fall and break your tooth, you’ll find your local dentist closed in most states.Your best bet is to go to an emergency department where they may have a dentist on-call. A lot of the university hospitals have dental schools associated, so they may be able to find you one. A number of states may have some designated sites that have areas for dental emergencies.

The American Dental Association has recommended U.S. dentists close their practices to all but emergency dental work. The ADA published a helpful patient guide listing which dental problems require emergency care and which can wait a few weeks.

Do not try to keep appointments or make appointments for the following dental procedures:

  •  Regular visits for
  • Regular visits for braces
  • Removal of teeth that aren’t painful
  • Treatment of cavities that aren’t painful
  • Tooth whitening

The following are conditions that you need to see a dentist for right away despite the danger of COVID-19, according to the ADA:

  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop
  • Painful swelling in or around your mouth
  • Pain in a tooth, teeth or jaw bone
  • Gum infection with pain or swelling
  • After-surgery treatment (dressing change, stitch removal)
  • Broken or knocked out tooth
  • Denture adjustment for people receiving radiation or other treatment for cancer
  • Snipping or adjusting wire of braces that hurts your cheek or gums
  • Biopsy of abnormal tissue