March 19, 2020


Until further notice, we must restrict patient care. This is based on March 19, 2020 orders from the Governor of Washington limiting dental care only to treatment for patients with emergency and urgent needs. Please read all this information carefully.

If you have an appointment at the School of Dentistry for:

Routine adult dental treatment (such as a checkup or cleaning or a filling)

All routine appointments are canceled. We will work with you to reschedule it. We will provide urgent or emergency care only until further notice.

DECOD clinic (part of Oral Medicine)

All routine appointments are canceled. If you are a DECOD patient or caregiver, please call the Oral Medicine clinic at 206-685-2937 to find out how your care will be provided or if you have questions. We will continue to see our DECOD patients for urgent or emergency care only.

Children’s dental care

All routine appointments are canceled. We will continue to see children for urgent or emergency care only at our Center for Pediatric Dentistry, located at our Sand Point campus just inside the entrance to Magnuson Park.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for adults

All routine appointments are canceled. We will provide only urgent or emergency oral surgery care for adults. Urgent or emergency oral surgery may be at:

  • Center for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, located at our Sand Point campus just inside the entrance to Magnuson Park.
  • Our Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery’s satellite clinic at Harborview Medical Center will also see patients for urgent or emergency care only.

Urgent or emergency care for adults

Urgent or emergency care for adults  will be provided at our Dental Urgent Care Clinic at the main School of Dentistry campus in the UW Health Sciences Center. To be seen at the clinic, you must have one or more of these conditions:

  • Severe toothache pain (not just a twinge)
  • Swelling of your gums, face, or neck
  • Bleeding in your mouth that does not stop
  • Infection or a substantial risk of it
  • Trauma (such as a broken tooth)

If you require urgent care, please do not come in without first calling the Dental Urgent Care Clinic at 206-543-5850.

We are working to establish urgent care for some patients by teledentistry rather than in person if it is appropriate. When you call the Dental Urgent Care Clinic, we can determine whether you would be a good candidate for this kind of care.

If you do not require urgent or emergency care, you must call your School of Dentistry clinic to reschedule your visit. Please also give us a call if you have questions. You can find all our clinics along with contact information here.

We are sorry that we must restrict our patient care this way. We are serving you in the safest manner possible by following the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under these difficult circumstances. In doing this, we will safeguard the health and safety of our patients, our care providers, and the whole community. We hope you understand, and we thank you for your cooperation.

Frequently asked questions for patients

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing respiratory illness in people and others in animals. Previous coronavirus outbreaks have included Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Although we have a lot to learn about this virus, it appears to spread like other respiratory viruses — when people with the infection cough or sneeze. These droplets are inhaled by other people or moved to the eyes, nose, or mouth by contaminated hands.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 are flu-like and include fever, cough, sore throat, and shortness of breath. Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people may develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.

People at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection include:

  • People who are pregnant
  • People who are age 60 and older
  • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
  • People who have weakened immune systems

I have a scheduled appointment at the School of Dentistry. What should I do?

If you have an appointment for routine care (such as an exam, a cleaning, or a filling), it is canceled. Following expert recommendations and the Governor’s orders, we are now restricting patient visits to urgent or emergency care only, as indicated above. Please call your clinic to reschedule your appointment or if you have any questions. You can find all our clinics along with contact information here.

If I have an appointment for urgent or emergency care at the School of Dentistry, who can come with me?

Only translators, parents, guardians, and other necessary adult support people are welcome to accompany our patients to appointments. They must remain in the waiting area unless their presence in the treatment room is required for treatment. Any other people, including children, may NOT accompany the patient to their appointment. You must honor social distancing recommendations and remain 6 feet from others in hallways and reception areas, and during social interactions. Depending on how many people are in the waiting area, you and your support person may be asked to wait in another area or outside. You both must pass the School of Dentistry COVID-19 screening procedure on arrival. Additional screening may continue later. Screening by UW Medical Center security staff is not sufficient for entry to any dental clinic.

Please note carefully: Patients may be accompanied into the actual treatment area by another person or service animal ONLY if they are essential for completion of the dental treatment. An accompanying person must first pass all our screening for COVID-19, including the absence of any fever over 100 degrees F. This screening must be done by School of Dentistry personnel. Screening by UW Medical Center security staff is not sufficient.

I have been calling the School of Dentistry and cannot reach anyone. What should I do?

Please wait until you hear back from us. We are trying to respond to our patients’ calls as quickly as possible, but under the current circumstances, our response may be delayed.

What do I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

If you have a cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call and speak with your health care provider before going to a medical facility. Do not go to an emergency room. If you believe you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms, call 9-1-1.

If you do feel ill, don’t panic. Most people who get the novel coronavirus disease have only minor symptoms and do not need medical care. In fact, most people with symptoms who are tested for COVID-19 have a negative test. Their symptoms are most likely due to influenza or seasonal allergies. However, you should contact your doctor to inform them of your symptoms and get advice.

If you have a mild case, your doctor may advise you to treat your symptoms at home. Staying home also helps prevent you from exposing other people to the disease.

For those who have a more serious case, call before you head to the urgent care or emergency room. That will help the medical team to prepare for your arrival, so you can receive the fastest and best possible care. It will also help them to protect other people from your infection.

Should I be tested for COVID-19?

If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to COVID-19, contact the Public Health – Seattle and King County call center between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. at 206-477-3977. Testing is generally conducted at a health care provider’s office.

According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, there are currently no restrictions on who can be tested for COVID-19.  UW Medical Center has expanded testing and is currently one of highest-volume testing sites in the nation. Limitations remain in laboratory capacity to obtain samples and process lab results promptly. Commercial testing is becoming more available. Health care providers may test any patient in whom they suspect COVID-19.

While there are no restrictions on who can get tested, not everybody who feels ill needs to be tested, particularly if you have mild illness. If you are sick with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, and are in a high-risk group, call your health care provider to discuss whether you should be tested for COVID-19.

What should I do to keep myself and those close to me safe?

The most important steps to take are the same as for every cold and flu season: Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water. If you cannot wash, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 65% alcohol content (70% is even better). Stay home if you are feeling ill. If you experience symptoms, call your doctor’s office. They will help you determine if you need to be seen and provide you with instructions for seeking medical care.

Public Health — Seattle & King County is recommending that EVERYONE should stay home if possible and avoid groups of people, including public places and gatherings where there will be close contact with others. This is called “social distancing” and means that in any group, you would never be closer than 6 feet from any other person. This not only protects individuals from disease, it also slows the spread of disease in our community to make it less likely that our hospitals will become overwhelmed with large numbers of people with severe COVID-19 infection.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19?

For more information on COVID-19, visit Public Health – Seattle & King County and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.