A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?


The American Dental Association has issued guidelines on what constitutes a dental emergency, which include, but are not limited to: severe dental pain, surgical post-operative osteitis, abscess, tooth fracture, dental trauma, dental treatment prior to critical medical procedures, final crown/bridge cementation, and biopsy of abnormal tissue. Dentists in Pennsylvania, however, were shocked to find their state health department advised that dentists could only perform such emergency procedures in a “negative pressure” room with air filters and only while wearing N95 masks. Dentist offices are rarely equipped with a negative pressure room, which includes a system that removes air and filters airborne microorganisms. In addition, the supply of N95 masks is very low across the United States, making their acquisition for emergency dental procedures impossible. The Pennsylvania Dental Association reached out to health department representatives about this conundrum, making the case that patients in extreme pain or with dangerous oral problems would be left without treatment under such directives. In response, the Pennsylvania Department of Health updated its guidelines on March 26, stating that the N95 masks are required only when treating patients with diagnosed COVID-19 and that all other emergency procedures could be conducted using universal infection control guidelines. Read more here.

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