CDA clarifies recommendations around ‘life-threatening’ dental emergencies

CDA’s latest recommendation regarding dentists’ response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic raised significant concern among some dentists, especially in the use of the term “life-threatening” as it relates to dental emergencies.

We heard you and would like to clarify. If left untreated, some dental infections can lead to life-threatening conditions. This recommendation does not limit dentists from seeing patients that they determine to have a condition needing emergency dental care. Dental emergencies should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the appropriate and necessary timing of in-person treatment.

The intent of CDA’s updated advisory is to protect the dentist, the dental team, patients and the community from the transmission of COVID-19 and prevent the unnecessary use of the PPE resources that are in extremely short supply, especially N95 masks. As health care providers, dentists understand their patients’ conditions and use their professional judgment to diagnose if a patient is experiencing a true dental emergency and determine if it is appropriate to treat with the appropriate PPE.

We appreciate the concerns and feedback expressed by dentists during this challenging time. Updated CDA FAQs with clearer definitions and state public health authority guidelines will be available as soon as possible at

CDA’s March 20 updated recommendation: response to statewide shelter-in-place

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