Emergency vs Non Emergency Dental Procedures as Defined by the ADA
COVID-19 Resources for Dentists

Summary of Requirements for Return to Providing Non-Urgent Care

Governor Jay Inslee announced Washington State’s plan for the safe expansion of non-urgent health care services on May 18, issuing Proclamation 20-24.1 entitled “Reducing Restrictions on, and Safe Expansion of, Non-Urgent Medical and Dental Procedures.

As a benefit of membership, WSDA has ​put together a detailed summary (member login required) of Proclamation 20-24.1. Throughout the summary, we have included many relevant resources to help ​member dentists comply with ​the Governor's criteria for ​resuming non-urgent procedures.

Summary & Resources
Member Dentists: Please log in using your ADA number OR email on file and password. If you forgot your password, you can reset it here. Please note that the password reset email will be sent to your email address on file with WSDA.

ADA Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit

The ADA’s Advisory Task Force for Dental Practice Recovery has developed a free toolkit with interim guidance which recommends measures to take to help protect patients, staff and dentists from COVID-19 as dental practices re-engage in providing the full range of oral health care.

Download the Toolkit

PPE for Washington Dentists

WSDA has tirelessly advocated for increased PPE access for dentists. Learn more at wsda.org/PPE.

PPE for WA Dentists
Please Note: This is a rapidly evolving situation and WSDA will provide updated information and guidance as it becomes available.


​Recent COVID-19 Communications from WSDA

Please Note: As this is a rapidly evolving situation, information/links in these posts may become out of date. Please ​reference our business impacts and clinical guidance pages, and check your email frequently for the most current information.

Emergency vs Non Emergency Dental Procedures as Defined by the ADA

This list from the ADA should be helpful in determining what is considered “emergency” versus “non emergency."
The following should be helpful in determining what is considered “emergency” versus “non emergency.” This guidance may change as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, and dentists should use their professional judgment in determining a patient’s need for urgent or emergency care.

1. Dental emergency

Dental emergencies are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection, and include: 
  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or a diffuse soft tissue bacterial infection with intra-oral or extra-oral swelling that potentially compromise the patient’s airway
  • Trauma involving facial bones, potentially compromising the patient’s airway

Urgent dental care focuses on the management of conditions that require immediate attention to relieve severe pain and/or risk of infection and to alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments. These should be treated as minimally invasively as possible. 

  • Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • Pericoronitis or third-molar pain
  • Surgical post-operative osteitis, dry socket dressing changes
  • Abscess, or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling.
  • Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma
  • Dental trauma with avulsion/luxation
  • Dental treatment required prior to critical medical procedures
  • Final crown/bridge cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation 

Other urgent dental care: 

  • Extensive dental caries or defective restorations causing pain
    • Manage with interim restorative techniques when possible (silver diamine fluoride, glass ionomers)
  • Suture removal
  • Denture adjustment on radiation/oncology patients
  • Denture adjustments or repairs when function impeded
  • Replacing temporary filling on endo access openings in patients experiencing pain
  • Snipping or adjustment of an orthodontic wire or appliances piercing or ulcerating the oral mucosa


2. Dental non emergency procedures

Routine or non-urgent dental procedures include but are not limited to: 
  • Initial or periodic oral examinations and recall visits, including routine radiographs
  • Routine dental cleaning and preventive therapies
  • Orthodontic procedures other than those to address acute issues (e.g. pain, infection, trauma)
  • Extraction of asymptomatic teeth
  • Restorative dentistry including treatment of asymptomatic carious lesions
  • Aesthetic dental procedures

​View COVID-19 information and updates at wsda.org/covid-19.
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