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Oral and Dental Care Guidance

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Your Oral Health

Be sure to make time for healthy activities like exercising, eating well, relaxing, connecting with family and friends on the phone or computer, and maintaining your oral health. These actions keep you and your immune system healthy.

Are dental offices allowed to be open?

Yes.  As of May 11, oral health providers were permitted to resume routine oral and dental care consistent with guidance to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Will I need to be screened for COVID-19 before visiting the dentist?

Dentists are encouraged to do a screening for symptoms by telephone 24 to 48 hours before your appointment.  The screening should be repeated upon your arrival at the office and your temperature checked by a non-contact thermometer.  If you are displaying symptoms or your temperature is over 100.0 F, your appointment should be rescheduled.

Should I defer routine care?

Those individuals with an increased vulnerability to COVID-19, such as those 65 years of age and older and persons with chronic medical conditions, should consider deferring elective oral and dental care.  For those not in high-risk categories, routine dental care can proceed.

If not regularly seeing a dentist, what can I do?

Oral health should be a priority. There is a lot you can do through simple day-to-day habits.

  • Brush twice daily for two minutes with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Properly floss and brush/clean your tongue once daily.
  • Never share a toothbrush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months or sooner if you are sick.
  • Drink plenty of fluoridated water.
  • Limit starchy or sugary foods and drinks.
  • Resist unhealthy habits to manage stress (smoking, consuming alcohol, biting fingernails).

If your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, continue to brush and floss gently and thoroughly. Often when gum health improves, bleeding decreases.

What should I do if I have dental treatments not completed or care that is in process?

  • For periodontal disease - make sure that you continue to brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. The toothbrush should be angled where the teeth and gums meet. Flossing at least one time per day should also be part of your daily routine. You can add a mouth rinse, such as Listerine or CloSYS, to decrease the number of bacteria in your mouth.
  • For untreated dental cavities - brushing your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and drinking water is helpful. To this routine, adding the use of sugar free or xylitol containing gum, eliminating sugar and carbohydrate snacks can help stop cavities from developing further.
  • For temporary crowns, temporary fillings, and in process root canal treatments - clean area carefully and avoid chewing gum, chewy/sticky foods and chewing on hard items, such as popcorn or ice chips. It is important to keep your tooth sealed. If you experience any problems, contact your dentist.

What are urgent or emergent needs?

Bleeding, acute pain or infection, and dental trauma are examples. Denture and some orthodontic issues impacting function also may be considered.

Dental care that should be taken care of by a dentist include:

  • Bleeding that does not stop.
  • Painful swelling in or around your mouth.
  • Pain in a tooth, teeth, or jawbone.
  • Gum infection with pain or swelling.
  • After surgery treatment (dressing change, stitch/suture removal).
  • Broken or knocked-out tooth.
  • Denture adjustment for people receiving radiation or other treatment for cancer.
  • Snipping or adjusting wire of braces that hurts your cheek or gums.
  • Biopsy of abnormal tissue.

But before you go contact your regular dentist's office.

  1. Communicate your problem by:
    • Telephone
    • FaceTime or Skype
    • Facebook Messenger video chat
    • Google Hangouts video
    • Texting
    • Digital photo sharing
  2. Be prepared to answer questions
    • About fever (have a current temperature reading)
    • Dry cough
    • Trouble breathing
  3. Accept that in some cases, definitive care may not be safe to provide.

Your dentist will be able to provide care to alleviate pain, swelling, or other urgent issues.

Is dental care safe during COVID-19?

There are no documented cases of COVID-19 spreading from a dental care provider to a patient. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does consider dental procedures that generate aerosols a high-risk interaction, due to the prolonged and close contact with saliva, blood, and respiratory secretions.  In these instances, extra precautions should be taken

Dental offices have traditionally had high adherence to infection control procedures using personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning surfaces with high-level disinfectant. This combination has resulted in a history of safety. Additional PPE and disinfection are required for safe care at this time, including the use of an N95 mask and other air processing measures.

What is aerosol and how does it relate to COVID-19 and dental care?

  • Aerosol is a spray. During some dental care procedures, such as cleanings and fillings, an air-water spray is produced.
  • COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted through respiratory droplets. When someone with the infection coughs, sneezes, or speaks, particles or droplets containing the virus may be transmitted to another person or a surface.
  • Virus material has been found to exist in saliva, but further research is needed to understand ways to minimize risk.
  • Many procedures do not produce an aerosol, such as suture removal, snipping protruding orthodontic wires, examination, X-rays, removal of debris via cotton or brush, simple extractions, and temporary fillings.

How can patients support safety at dental offices?

  • Understand your dentist may need extra measures and more time to keep the office safe, including requiring patients and family to wait in cars and not sit in the waiting room. Accompanying visitors should be discouraged unless necessary to get the patient home safely, escort and calm a young child, or to accommodate a disability.
  • More PPE and cleaning may be required, which can result in the need for more time between patients.
  • Inform the dental staff if you have been sick, been tested for COVID-19, or had recently been quarantined.
  • If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, do not go to the dentist. Contact your physician who may suggest you be tested.

If you do not have a regular source of dental care, make a contact through one of the sources below. These are searchable by your home ZIP code.

  1. “Find a Dentist” for Illinois State Dental Society (ISDS) member dentist directory:
  2. “Find a Dental Clinic” resource on the ISDS website: This is a listing of clinics for people with limited financial ability.
  3. Illinois’ Federally Qualified Health Centers: These centers are for people who are low income, uninsured, or are undocumented residents. See listing below of those open for urgent/emergency care.
  4. Several local health departments have an oral health program. See listing below of those open for urgent/emergency care.
  5. Illinois has three dental schools. Information about accessing urgent dental care is available by calling or visiting their website.

University of Illinois – Chicago
(312) 996-8636

Southern Illinois University- Alton
(618) 474-7000

Midwestern University – Downers Grove
(630) 743-4500


Federally Qualified Health Centers with Open Oral Health Programs

Aunt Martha’s in Carpentersville
3003 Wakefield Drive, Carpentersville, IL 60110
(847) 551-8009
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.  Adult emergencies only.  Children exams only.

Aunt Martha’s Women Health Center
233 W. Joe Orr Road, Chicago Heights, IL 60411
(877) 692-8686
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.  Adult emergencies only.

Central Counties Health Centers, Inc. 
2239 E. Cook St., Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 788-2300
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Wednesday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Not using teledentistry.  Offering services for all ages. Preventive and restorative care and simple extractions.

Erie Foster Avenue Health Center
5215 N. California Ave., 7th floor, Chicago IL 60625

(312) 666-3494

(New patients - children under 18/Erie medical patients)
Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Using teledentistry

Friend Health Western
5843 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL
(773) 434-8600
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Currently taking phone calls for patients at highest risk of COVID-19 and/or if they are symptomatic.

Greater Elgin Family Care Center
450 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120
(847) 608-1344
Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. - 7:20 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Not using teledentistry

Lawndale Christian Health Center Dental Clinic
3750 W. Ogden Ave.
(872) 588-3220
Monday to Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. with last appointment at 4 p.m.
Dentists are screening calls to determine emergency.

Mile Square Health Center
7037 S. Stony Island Ave., Chicago, IL 60649
(312) 996-2000  Ask for Mile Square Dental.
Monday and Thursday 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Wednesday and Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Utilizing teledentistry
Have negative pressure space, so can do simple extractions.

PrimeCare Community Health
West Town – 1431 N. Western Ave, Suite 401, Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 269-5540
Hours are fluid, but for now they are: Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Using teledentistry phone and video.  Offering preventive services for children.

Rural Health, Inc
513 N. Main St., Anna IL 62906
(618) 833-4475
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

SIU Center for Family Medicine clinic
109 3rd St., Lincoln, IL 62656
(217) 735-2317
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. to take calls and a dentist can be reached consultation/teledentistry visits. Patients are seen in the clinic on an as-needed basis. Offering preventive services for adults and children and some restorative services.

TCA Health
1029 E. 130th St., Chicago IL, 60628
(773) 995-6300
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Patients are not being seen in the office, using teledentistry

VNA Health Care
400 N. Highland Ave., Aurora IL 60506
(630) 892-4355
Monday – Friday 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Using teledentistry

Whiteside County Health Department
1300 W. 2nd St., Rock Falls, IL 61071
(815) 626-2230
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. One-hour appointments.  Emergency services only for adults; limited other services for children. Maximum of 10 patients allowed in the waiting room at a time.
Using teledentistry for current patients.

Will County Community Health Center
1106 Neal Ave., Joliet, IL 60433
(815) 774-7300
Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Can screen on phone.

Last Updated:  9/10/2020