There is no single definition of what is medically necessary, urgent or an emergency. Each dentist will need to use his or her best clinical and medical judgment. The American Dental Association (ADA) has issued guidance regarding the definition of emergency care and you can use this as a guideline. The mandate by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis required all dental offices to immediately cease performing elective services. He mandated the prohibition of any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery in the state of Florida. Dentists are still able and required to see urgent and emergency patients. All non-essential elective medical and surgical procedures, including dental procedures, are prohibited during this time.
At this point, the state of Florida has not defined emergency care, so the information provided by the ADA may be a recommendation that Florida dentists choose to consider. Dentists should use their professional judgment in determining a patient’s need for urgent or emergency care and may find it helpful to reference the ADA’s detailed guidance and algorithm flowcharts in making informed decisions concerning patient triage, evaluation and treatment.
In addition, the ADA has a comprehensive interim guidance that addresses what to do before dental care starts (scheduling, screening and patient arrival); during dental care (precautions, personal protective equipment and clinical technique); and, after dental care has been provided (sanitizing between patients, steps to prevent transmission between work and home). Please read the guidance for minimizing risk of COVID-19 transmission.