Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new infectious disease with clinical signs and symptoms ranging from a fever and cough, to shortness of breath and symptoms of pneumonia. Most Coronavirus cases have mild illness, with a smaller proportion requiring hospitalisation (mainly due to pneumonia).
During this lock down period it is likely that patients will experience dental issues such as: broken teeth or fillings; toothache and pain; gum or tooth infection; dental trauma etc. It is to be expected that many may attempt to relieve their pain with analgesics or at home remedies, but the more severe issues may still need an appointment with a dentist.
Oral health practitioners were notified by the Ministry of Health and Dental Council to suspend all non- essential and elective dental treatment as of 23 March 2020. All emergency dental treatment (see below), and relief of pain (such as toothaches) which cannot be managed by medications, continues with appropriate precautions taken.
Transmission is considered to occur primarily through respiratory droplets and secretions, placing dental staff at high risk of exposure. Airborne transmission is highly likely during aerosol-generating procedures which are common dental procedures i.e. the use of dental hand pieces (fillings, restorative and some surgical treatment), sonic and ultrasonic instruments (teeth cleaning) and air/water syringes (cleaning and drying teeth). Unfortunately, this puts dentists and their staff at high risk of being infected with COVID-19. To keep everyone safe, dentists are trying to limit the amount of dental emergency treatment they do.
Clients have access to dental emergency triage and advice via telephone from most dental practices in New Zealand and should only be seen in person if their pain cannot be controlled by medication, or if they have dental trauma requiring urgent care. Not all dental practices are open to treat client’s clinically due to their limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE). A very high level of PPE is required to administer safe dental treatment.
Fillinggaps has located the majority of dental practices in NZ, from Auckland to Invercargill, who are open for clinical treatment of dental emergencies. On the Fillinggaps home page, select “procedure”, then select “*Emergency services during Covid-19*”, type in your City (or address) and hit search. New practices are being added daily.
Please be mindful that the dentists that are open are limited in their resources to be able to safely treat patients and should only be used for the following emergencies:
If you have a toothache, check out these helpful articles: