Dentists needing to reassess what’s an emergency during COVID-19 crisis

With emergency rooms across metro Detroit at capacity treating patients with COVID-19, people experiencing problems with their teeth may need to reassess the meaning of a dental emergency.

Take Stannard Studt and Tironi Dentistry in Waterford, for example. They’re just one of many having to modify how they’re treating patients during this crisis.

"We can do a teleconference to see what we can manage over the phone."

This is what "seeing" their patients looks like right now.

"We have to keep people out of the urgent care, emergency room and not overtax our professionals up their eyebrows right now," says Dr. Sean Stannard.

He says right now that is dentistry's immediate responsibility.

"We're all really sorry that your filling fell out and if it was a normal Tuesday you'd be in here in 2 hours or before 5 o'clock and we would get you taken care of, treated completely or patched up,” Dr. Stannard says – but now your dentist may be giving you DIY instructions.

"You could be at the pharmacy getting some temporary material and packing it in there, drinking the cold stuff on the other side,” Dr. Stannard says. “If you have a sore spot underneath a dental appliance you might be sitting at home in your robe with your teeth out until tomorrow."

So what is considered a dental emergency?

"If we have something that begins to swell or waking you up at night, showing signs of having an infection, something that's becoming serious, we need to know right away,” he says.

When in doubt Dr. Stannard says call a dentist.

He says while we all have to make adjustments during this time there is a strong lesson coming from our current conditions.

"We're learning that you need to be healthy on Tuesday because you're not sure what's coming on Wednesday."