Unless it's an emergency, don't plan on seeing your dentist in the near future

Mar 24, 2020

Credit freeimages.com/Pierre Drap

Routine visits to the dentist are another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic for the foreseeable future.

Dental offices and clinics are still open, but they are restricting patient visits to emergency cases only. 

Dr. David Levy, medical director at Eastman Dental Center, said that includes "stopping bleeding, uncontrollable bleeding, alleviate very severe pain, and most particularly infection, and could even include treatment for trauma, injuries to the mouth and to teeth."

Levy said Eastman has reduced its normal patient visits by 90 percent since workplace restrictions were enacted to slow the spread of coronavirus. Staff members are wearing protective gear while treating the patients they do see, and all patients are screened several times before they enter the center.

Levy said they have not yet encountered a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19, but it's only a matter of time before they do.

"We've had some suspected cases that were not confirmed and we took all precautions," he said. "But we're expecting that to happen. That will happen at some point in the future, for sure."

If a confirmed COVID-19 patient comes to the dental center, Levy said he or she would be isolated and referred to the University of Rochester Medical Center for treatment.

Since it may be weeks before many patients are able to see their dentist again, Levy has advice to maintain dental health. Aside from the expected recommendation to faithfully brush and floss, he cautions people to be careful about what they are eating.

"I think during this period we all are moving towards maybe doing things that make us feel better and sweet foods might be more tempting," he said. "But the more we do that, the more the risk to our dental health."