By Dr. Frederic Barnett
Management of dental emergencies during this COVID-19 pandemic takes knowledge, preparation and a bit of bravery.
The creation of aerosols during surgical extractions or opening teeth to initiate root canal treatment is definitely a cause for concern. However, the CDC, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and recent updated Guidance from the ADA have mandated that the dental personnel in the operatory wear N95 masks, face shields, gowns, gloves, use high-volume suction and use the RUBBER DAM when possible. Negative-pressure rooms are not necessary. Despite these well thought through guidelines, there is still a lot of concern, hesitation and fear of getting infected.
At Einstein Dental Medicine, our GPR and endodontic residents have been available to manage patients from our community who present with “true” dental emergencies since the day our governor appropriately ordered the the shutdown of dental practices to all elective and non-urgent procedures. I believe that we are the only dental department in our area that has been available for such management.
Our response during this crisis has hopefully helped reduce the volume of patients who otherwise would present to area ERs, which are already overburdened. I’m so very proud of our residents, staff and faculty who show up everyday to help patients who are suffering with dental-related pain and infection.
This photo shows the treatment of a sweet 15-year-old girl who had been suffering with continuous pain for two to three days that also kept her up at night. OTC analgesics were no longer alleviating her pain. She was diagnosed with pulp necrosis and symptomatic apical periodontitis of tooth #2, and then treated by one our our second-year endodontic residents. The look on this young girl’s face when we told her that she would be free of such pain was PRICELESS! This is why we do what we do! (Can you guess who was assisting in this treatment? … Yours truly.)
Dr. Frederic Barnett is the chairman of Dental Medicine, and chair and program director of postdoctoral endodontics at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. He has also served as the director of postdoctoral endodontics at the University of Pennsylvania.