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Dentists still open to provide emergency treatment

As most Wisconsin dentists follow recommendations by the American Dental Association, the Wisconsin Dental Association (WDA), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and numerous other health agencies, to temporarily suspend elective procedures to lessen transmission of COVID-19, they remain available to provide emergency care – and they urge people to seek that care if they need it.

“Oral health is an integral part of overall health,” said WDA President Dr. Thomas Raimann of Milwaukee. “Severe pain, bleeding or swelling should be taken seriously at all times, even now when most dental offices are closed for routine care. Wisconsin’s dentists remain available for patients during this public health crisis, and have instituted additional measures and protocols to provide emergency care in a clean, safe and healthy environment.

Raimann says patients needing urgent care should not delay treatment, nor should they go to hospital emergency rooms already stretched thin by this crisis. If in need of dental treatment, contact a dental office first – they stand ready to help.

The WDA recommends emergency treatment if someone is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

• Severe, persistent toothache. If a toothache has become overwhelming, seek care from a dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, symptoms could worsen and other complications could arise.

• Tooth knocked out or loose. Timing is essential when a tooth has been knocked out. The faster someone can see a dentist, the more likely they will be able to save the natural tooth. A tooth that has become suddenly loose is typical for children, but can be a major problem for adults, as it could indicate an underlying disease.

• Broken tooth. This not only causes tooth pain and facial swelling, it can also leave a person more vulnerable to bacteria and infection that can threaten overall health. If a tooth is slightly chipped or broken, and presents no significant pain, treatment can be postponed until regular care can be administered.

Dental abscess (tooth infection). If a dental abscess is suspected, seek immediate treatment. Infections could become life-threatening when they spread throughout the body or close airways. This type of infection can cause major mouth pain that could extend to the jaw, neck and other areas of the body. Common symptoms include swelling of the mouth or face, fever, a buildup of pus, a foul taste in the mouth and swollen glands.

If someone is unsure if symptoms require immediate attention, the WDA recommends seeking counsel from a dental office. True medical emergencies – such as an inability to breathe or a rapid deterioration of overall health – still warrant calling 911.