Stillwater Medical and local dental practices began postponing elective and non-emergent surgeries and procedures even before it was ordered by the governor. Now they are working together to consult and define procedures that should be done now in order to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.
“It’s important that we allow dentists to evaluate and treat their patients to avoid visits to the emergency room,” said Don Crawley, M.D., Otolaryngologist. “Allowing dentists to take care of urgent problems helps avoid emergency surgeries and hospital stays.”
The goal of postponing elective surgeries is to preserve necessary resources like personal protective equipment and hospital beds, as well as to minimize the number of people coming and going from the facility. The American Dental Association estimates there's a dental-related emergency room visit every 15 seconds.
“Concentrating on our emergency and urgent patients will alleviate the possible burden placed on hospital emergency room,” said Stillwater dentist Dr. Clint Metcalf. “As health care professionals, it is up to us to make well-informed decisions about our patients and practices while at the same time, taking into consideration the seriousness of exposure to COVID-19”
According to the American Dental Association, dental emergencies are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection, and include: uncontrolled bleeding, cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that potentially compromise the patient’s airway, and trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway.
“In addition, cases consider urgent if not treated quickly can also result in a medical emergency,” said Metcalf. “Those include severe pain and/or risk of infection and should be treated as minimally invasive as possible.”
Examples of urgent procedures includes tooth fractures resulting in pain, dry socket dressing changes, dental trauma, biopsy of abnormal tissues and pulpal inflammation.