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

June 30 Reopening Update for Dental Offices

On June 30, Washington state entered the “Washington Ready” phase of COVID-19 reopening, which allows many sectors of public and private life to return to usual capacity and operations with some exceptions. Updated statewide facial covering requirements from the Secretary of Health also took effect.

As health care settings — which are exempted from many of the new reopening and masking guidelines — dental offices are still required to follow enhanced COVID-19 safety and masking requirements.

Masks are Still Required in All Health Care Settings, Regardless of Vaccination Status

Under the Secretary of Health’s updated mask order, all people, regardless of vaccination status, are still required to wear masks in certain places, such as schools and health care settings. Read a press release from the Secretary of Health here and the full text of the updated mask order here.

The Department of Health has released this "When do you need your mask?" flyer, which you may find helpful to share with patients who ask about the continued masking requirements in your office.

Dental Offices Must Still Follow Proclamation 20-24.2

Health care settings, including dental offices, must continue to follow guidelines as outlined in Proclamation 20-24.2 “Reducing Restrictions on, and Safe Expansion of, Non-Urgent Medical and Dental Procedures,” which remains in effect as of June 30.

A detailed summary of Proclamation 20-24.2 is available for all WSDA members hereWashington Dentists: Not a member? Join WSDA today.

Proclamation Summary & Resources


ADA Update to Office Procedures During COVID-19

The ADA's new “Update to Office Procedures During COVID-19” toolkit walks dentists through necessary safety procedures including staff and patient screening, hazard assessments and cleaning protocols. This is an exclusive resource for ADA members and requires member login to access.

Access Toolkit


​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Please Note: As this is a rapidly evolving situation, information/links in these posts may become out of date.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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