How to deal with Dental Emergencies during COVID-19 Pandemic


How to Deal with Dental Emergencies During COVID-19 Pandemic

Many of you had your appointments booked from the third week of March onward either to have a dental procedure done or have your routine hygiene appointment, however, due to COVID-19 outbreak and as per directions from our governing body, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO), dental offices were asked to suspend all elective and non-emergency appointments.


The fact is that we are not sure when this situation is going to end, and on the other hand, time is not going to help some dental conditions to stop where they are, so, if you have a dental condition that needs to be dealt with, here you can find some tips to possibly slow down its progress. 

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Who can be visited in a dental office?

Patients with true emergency needs

What is considered as Dental Emergency?

A severe injury to the teeth, mouth, and face

Severe infection, like an abscess or swelling

Bleeding that does not stop with home remedies

Dental pain that cannot be managed by medications like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Where should I go if I have an emergency or if I am not sure my condition is an emergency or not?

Do not panic.

Do not go to any hospital to address your emergency. The hospitals are already overwhelmed right now with the current situation and you will be at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Call your dentist’s office. Most dentists check their voice messages regularly or there might be a greeting message on their answering machine with helpful information regarding your case. Some offices have dedicated a helpline through which you can reach the dentist directly.

Your dentist may be able to assist you over the phone or through a video call and instruct you in case your issue is manageable. Also, your dentist may choose to phone in prescriptions if deemed necessary.
If you are not able to get a hold of your dentist, please check the link below from RCDSO for a list of offices that provide emergency dental care:

I have a cavity and I had an appointment to address that. I don’t have any pain right now but I don’t want the cavity to get worse. How can I take care of that till things get back to normal?

Keep up with good oral hygiene habits:

Brushing: minimum of 2X per day

Flossing: Most of the cavities happen in between the teeth where the brush cannot reach and the only way to clean those areas is flossing. If you have an active cavity you need to floss more often.

Use Antibacterial mouthwash that contains Fluoride after brushing: swish around the teeth for 1 minute and spit. Do not eat or drink for 30 minutes after.

Follow a healthy diet with less sugar content

Call your dentist if you start to feel pain on the tooth.

I have a cavity and it is a couple of days that I have severe pain on the tooth, the pain takes longer than a minute and sometimes it takes me up during the night. What should I do?

This may be a true emergency condition. You may have developed an infection in your tooth and it needs to be dealt with.

Contact your dentist immediately or you can refer to the link from RCDSO to find an office that provides emergency dental care.

It has been a couple of days that I have a dull pain on the back of my mouth and I feel my gum is swollen. What should I do?

Avoid chewing food on the affected side until the area is normal.

Rinse your mouth 3 times/day by antibacterial mouthwash or warm salt-water.

Take Over-The-Counter pain killers, in case of mild pain.

For moderate to severe pain call your dentist to have a further assessment over the phone and if needed in the office.

I had discomfort while swallowing and this morning when I woke up I noticed my cheek was swollen. What should I do?

This condition may be a true emergency. You may have an abscess caused by one of your teeth.

Contact your dental office immediately or you can refer to the link from RCDSO to find an office that provides emergency dental care.

Apply ice pack on the swollen area (15 minutes on and 15 minutes off)

While I was eating, my crown (cap) came off, my tooth is sensitive to cold now. what should I do?

Call your dentist’s office. They will be able to temporarily glue it back on the tooth.

I have gum disease and I am supposed to get cleaning every 3 months, what should I do now?

Do your best oral hygiene care at home; Brush after each meal followed by flossing.

Avoid eating popcorns as the kernels may get trapped inside the pockets and cause gum abscess

Refrain from smoking

I have a dental implant and the crown on that is loose. I have no pain. what should I do?

Although this doesn’t usually cause pain, it can be an urgent matter and needs to be looked after as soon as possible, therefore call your dentist’s office or you can refer to the link from RCDSO to find an office that provides emergency dental care.

Remember to clearly explain the problem to them before going in as not all dental offices have the necessary tools to deal with loose implant crowns.

Keep the area clean, but do not use your electric tooth brush on it since the vibration may loosen up the crown even more

Keep wearing your night guard

Be on soft diet and avoid chewing on that side

I was eating and my tooth broke. I don’t have pain but it has a sharp edge which is bothering my tongue. What should I do?

Call your dentist. They can help you with placing a temporary filling on the area or smoothing the sharp edge

My filling popped out and my tooth is sensitive, what should I do?

Call your dentist. They may be able to help you with placing a temporary filling on the area

I have a pimple on my gum, I don’t have any pain but sometimes I feel a foul taste. I am feeling there is an infection and I am concerned if it goes to my blood. What should I do?

Call your dentist and explain the situation

The pimple on the gum (draining fistula) is usually associated with infection either from the tooth or the gum. This needs to be investigated thoroughly. However, this condition does not count as an emergency as per RCDSO.

Although it might feel uncomfortable to feel a bad taste, the positive point is that the infection found a way to the outside and you should not be concerned about the infection spreading out to your bloodstream.

Swish warm saltwater and massage the area once a day and rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouth wash afterward.

While my son was playing in the house, he fell off the stairs and his tooth got knocked out. What should I do?

  • This is a true emergency
  • Do not panic
  • Put the tooth in a container with milk
  • Call your dentist’s office immediately
  • If you cannot get a hold of your dentist, don’t wait, and call one of the offices in the list from RCDSO

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