Dental Emergencies(?) During COVID-19

We’re all human, which means we can’t expect perfection. But… who decides what is a “dental emergency” and what isn’t? And how can I appeal those decisions?

tooth pulled out_shutterstock_90060997Those of us who teach at Pennsylvania universities have been practicing social distancing for almost 6 weeks now. For myself, that means I order & pay for my groceries online once every couple of weeks, then park outside the store while someone puts the bags into my open trunk. My daily trips to the post office are now once a week — complete with gloves and mask. My one big risk is going through a Starbucks or Panera drive-thru once or twice a week when I’m desperate for something I haven’t had to cook myself.

So you can imagine my dismay when a tooth started causing problems. About 3 weeks ago, it became very sensitive to even slightly chilled water. Of course, I ignored it. Then last week it started aching. I started holding my head in my hands begging for the pain to go away. Ignoring that wasn’t successful, so I tried using Advil. That worked, except for when it wears off each night and wakes me up in pain.

Knowing that tooth infections can lead to heart problems, I finally bit the bullet and called my dentist. I fully expected “normal” dentistry to be closed, but — SURELY? — there were provisions for dental emergencies. After all, they are really the same as medical emergencies, no?

Apparently, no. Apparently, an infected, rotten tooth is not considered an emergency. I went online assuming it was just a quirk of my dentist — and others were being more reasonable. But no. Apparently it’s world-wide.

In England, a man trying to get an emergency appointment for an infected tooth was told to forget it unless he couldn’t breathe(!) So he finally grabbed some pliers and pulled out his own tooth. I sympathize with him — the pain was enough to make everything else fade in comparison. I’ve spent several days now desperately wanting my tooth out NOW!

However, I’ve just realized I’m not as brave as that English gentleman. Instead, I’ve accepted a prescription for antibiotics for my tooth. If that doesn’t work, however, I may discover new heights to my courage(!)




One thought on “Dental Emergencies(?) During COVID-19

  1. Gad. I can see that the dentists would be wary about getting so up close and personal, but for the state to not allow them to work for any reason…. But then dentistry has always been considered a “poor cousin” by MDs. People have also found they are turned away with cancer treatment too.

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