Editor’s Note: This article is part of BeaverCountian.com’s ongoing series, “The Beaver County Coronavirus Chronicles,” the county’s historical experience of the pandemic. Click here to see more of the series.
NORTH SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP
The 6-year-old boy had two bad baby teeth.
He had developed cellulitis, a painful bacterial infection, and it had poisoned the boy’s skin and inner mouth. He needed to have the teeth pulled and treated. But up until Friday, the only option was a hospital emergency room because the state health department had effectively closed all dental and oral surgery offices March 22 as part of COVID-19 restrictions.
The little boy’s parents didn’t want to risk his exposure to the coronavirus in a hospital setting. Imagine the relief when the state Department of Health lifted restrictions Thursday night.
On Friday, they took him to one of North Pittsburgh Oral Surgery’s five offices, which includes the one across the road from Riverside High School in North Sewickley Township.
“He’s recovering very, very well,” oral surgeon Dr. Wayne Roccia said today.
The state had previously mandated the dentists and oral surgeons couldn’t stay open without negative pressure rooms and N95 masks, equipment that dentists don’t have, Roccia said.
Now they can provide emergency dental care to patients who have been suffering with severe pain and swelling, or who have had traumatic injuries to their teeth as a result of accidents, without the requirement to use negative pressure rooms.
And the calls from those who have been suffering have been pouring in, Roccia said. “We’re getting a ton of calls,” he said. Dentists have been making referrals and others are finding his offices through social media posts.
Roccia said his practice had been preparing for increased safety measures by installing air filters.
When the 6-year-old boy came in, another doctor extracted his teeth, cleaned the incision and put in drainage, Roccia said.
Roccia said doctors say to never let the sun set on an infection, “but in this setting we were letting the sun set on a lot. Now we’re dealing with it.
“We expect to see more like this little guy in the next couple of days,” he said.
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