Understanding dental emergencies, urgent care services provided at the St. Louis Dental Center
The St. Louis Dental Center offers comprehensive dental care and emergency dental treatment through its Centene Urgent Dental Care Center. In an innovative partnership between A.T. Still University Missouri School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ATSU-MOSDOH) and Affinia Healthcare, the St. Louis Dental Center is one of the first of its kind to provide clinical training and services for underserved and vulnerable populations in a federally qualified health center public health setting.
Isaac Coronel, DMD, ’23, is the urgent care specialist at the St. Louis Dental Center and staffs all Affinia Healthcare clinics as their full-time urgent care provider. A 2023 ATSU-MOSDOH graduate, he served as class president, was inducted into Omicron Kappa Epsilon, one of the highest honors attainable within the dental profession, and has many other educational achievements.
“We are proud of Dr. Coronel, as well as his outstanding peers in the 2023 ATSU-MOSDOH graduating class,” said Dwight E. McLeod, DDS, MS, ATSU-MOSDOH dean and professor of periodontics. “We are fortunate he has chosen to continue his work in St. Louis public health centers.”
Urgent dental care is an emergency-based focus on the patient’s chief complaint, rather than providing treatment plans for the entire mouth. Common complaints originate from non-restorable teeth, resulting in pain, thermal sensitivity, inability to chew, and sleepless nights. Patients coming to the St. Louis Dental Clinic present with broken fillings and oral pathological lesions, such as cancer, dry sockets, and jaw pain. The St. Louis Dental Center’s Centene Urgent Dental Care clinic sees 30-35 patients on weekdays and 5-10 patients on Saturdays, equating to 185 patients a week or 740 patients a month.
“It’s always rewarding when we are able to support our patients by resolving the issue that caused their pain,” explains Dr. Coronel. “We believe dental emergencies are best managed by dental professionals in dental settings for the best oral health outcomes. When patients seek emergency dental treatment in non-dental settings, like an emergency room, palliative care in the form of antibiotic and analgesic therapy is likely provided. This may delay definitive dental treatment, potentially leading to worsening conditions or repeat emergency visits. If a patient presents with a complex medical history or if the treatment does not resolve the problem, it may be necessary to send the patient to the ER.”
Thanks to a collaboration between Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the St. Louis Dental Center’s Centene Urgent Dental Care Clinic, hours and services have expanded to Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:00 a.m.-Noon. This schedule allows patients to seek urgent dental treatment in a dental setting outside of normal business hours to avoid disruptions with work, school, and childcare.
“For me, urgent care is a wonderful setting to support our underserved patient populations who cannot always afford extensive treatment. Providing more affordable help at a crisis moment is rewarding to me and appreciated by the patient,” added Dr. Coronel.