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Visit the Dentist, Not the ED, to Help Fight COVID-19

#DentalER campaign aims to preserve emergency room capacity and PPE

Dentists across the country are joining the #DentalER social media campaign—an effort to spread awareness that people with dental emergencies should contact their dentist first instead of going to the emergency room.

Most ERs aren’t equipped to provide substantive dental care, and studies have shown that nearly 4% of avoidable ER visits are for dental disorders. When patients do visit the ER for a dental emergency, they’re often sent to a dentist instead. The process costs the ER time, space, and personal protection equipment—scarce resources for health systems confronting COVID-19.

“Keeping dental emergencies out of emergency departments and urgent care centers can help preserve our health system’s precious capacity and PPE supply, needed now more than ever,” said Steve Thorne, CEO of Pacific Dental Services in California. “Helping staff at hospitals, ERs, and urgent care centers stay focused on COVID-19 and other medical emergencies is a significant help to our communities.”

Thorne and other leaders of the #DentalER campaign hope to enlist anyone who is concerned about a nationwide shortage of PPE and ED capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. To take part, take a photo holding a sign or record a video explaining why dentists should be the first stop for dental emergencies, and then post with the hashtag #DentalER to any social media platform.

As the campaign has grown, clinicians and patients have started using the hashtag to share their gratitude for dentists who have contributed to the COVID-19 effort in their own ways.

“I’ve been inspired by stories from emergency department physicians and nurses about their dentists providing them with needed treatment so they could get back to caring for their patients fighting COVID-19,” Thorne said. “I’ve also been inspired by stories of patients who were afraid to go to an emergency room, and found relief for their urgent dental condition at a dental practice open for such emergencies. Dentists are essential and doing all they can to support their health system partners.”

Learn more about the #DentalER campaign and how to get involved at DentalER.org.