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Dental Emergency

"A cement casting of the upper left quadrant of my mouth, made after breaking a tooth and searching for two weeks before finding a dentist whose office in Renton, WA was open for emergencies."(Artifact from the personal collection of Fredda Jaffe)

Consider this: Your mouth is home to some 700 different species of microbes. These include germs like bacteria, fungi, viruses and more. Some are helpful, others not so much. Apparently, your mouth is a microbiome, a carefully constructed environment which needs to be kept in balance to stay healthy.  During the earliest phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, access to dentists and dental surgeons was limited to emergencies only – due to the inability to “social distance” and the need to unmask to receive care. 


This past week, 40 out of 50 states resumed dental care for non-emergencies, according to a May 19th article by Aaron Mak in Slate Magazine. But as with many other aspects of the multi-phased reopening of services, new protocols will need to be followed. Don’t be surprised when you show up for your cavity filling to find your dentist and hygienist wearing the usual goggles and gloves, as well as N95 respirator masks, gowns, surgical caps and shoe covers.  

No surprise, since the transmission of COVID-19 is through aerosol droplets emitted when sneezing, coughing, talking, even breathing. Mak writes, “The coronavirus often infects people via saliva droplets; many dental instruments spray saliva, and the diseased particles can remain suspended in a mist for hours.”  As if any of us needs another excuse to stay away from the dentist.


To learn about the most recent CDC guidance for dental settings go to:

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