Inspiring Dentists Provide Emergency Care During the COVID-19 Crisis

Wendy Belleville


In times of crisis, the most remarkable things can happen.

The entrance into 2020 has brought with it a turbulent and angst-filled period of uncertainty, as the COVID-19 coronavirus has rocked the world. Its outcome is still unknown. People sequestered in their communities around the globe are collectively holding their breath, waiting for what’s next.

And yet, sometimes even during the worst of times, silver linings can emerge. Here are inspiring stories of five California dentists supported by Pacific Dental Services (PDS) who are providing emergency and essential care to their patients and making all the difference in their communities, all in their own words.

Fredrick Lee, DMD

Once COVID-19 became a pandemic, our team at Hemet Dental Group and Orthodontics of Hemet, California, collectively decided to do everything we possibly could to take care of our patients. Our choices will not be based on fear, as we’re on the front lines of a war. If we don’t take care of our patients, they will end up in the emergency room, potentially exposing themselves to being infected with COVID-19, and more than likely turned away.  

The team members in our dental office were all given a choice, and most are bravely choosing to serve. They’re looking to us as an example to guide them through these uncertain times. For us, it’s always been about providing access to dental care. Why on Earth would we limit access now?  

In the midst of the coronavirus, our office is currently focused on treating essential and emergency dentistry. We’ve contacted our local emergency rooms and urgent care facilities to let them know that we are available to take care of their dental emergencies. We will not turn anyone away in need of emergency or essential dental care.

Manal Abdelkarim, DDS

Last week, a patient we hadn’t seen in six years came into Rancho Cucamonga Smiles Dentistry in Rancho Cucamonga, California, with severe tooth pain. Upon examination, I alerted the patient that the tooth right behind the one in question was about to break down as well. Both teeth had been diagnosed six years ago, but the patient was reluctant to pay for treatment. I prescribed antibiotics to treat the infection and scheduled her to see the endodontist the following week.  

However, soon after she left, I reflected on the current situation plaguing the world. I was concerned that there was a chance our endodontist would not be available in the near future as only God knows what tomorrow holds. I was also concerned that if the patient developed a serious infection it could weaken her immune system and make her more susceptible to other infections.

So, I immediately called my patient back and asked her to return to the office, and we treated both teeth. After completing treatment, the patient burst into tears and said, “I can’t believe I’m crying tears of joy over a root canal. Thank you so much for taking care of me under these circumstances.” 

Sasi K. Mannem, DDS 

A 69-year-old patient recently came into Park West Dental Group in Stockton, California, with broken teeth. His family advised him not to go in for a dental appointment due to their concerns about his age and the risk of contracting coronavirus. In spite of it, he came in because he was in so much pain.

I was able to do the exam and decided we couldn’t save his two broken teeth. On top of it, he also had an infection. I wrote a prescription for antibiotics and pain medicine, and I then arranged for him to have those teeth removed by our oral surgeon once the infection was under control. He was extremely grateful that we were able to see him under such short notice.

Marjan Rogers, DMD

A patient with severe pain and swelling came into College Dental Group and Orthodontics in Oceanside, California, last week. She had a non-treatable abscess under existing bridges. Both teeth were indicated for extraction, and the patient was terrified she was going to be without her front teeth.  

After treatment, which consisted of the two extractions and a 10-unit bridge, she was very grateful that I was able to get her out of pain and restore her function and smile. She was especially impressed that we were able to take care of her under the current circumstances when many offices are closed. We’re pleased we were able to help this patient in need, especially during COVID-19.

Maral Khazali, DDS  

I recently had a patient come to me at Main Street Dental Group in Ventura, California, in severe pain. She explained that she had been trying to make an appointment with her dentist, but they were closed. She also said that she tried other offices, but no one was available to see her.

I noticed she was wearing scrubs, which made me think she worked in healthcare and might be a high-risk patient who had possible contact with other people or patients. After a complete and thorough screening, we decided it was safe to treat her.  

She had an infected tooth and was crying the entire time she was in the chair due to pain. We began treatment with proper personal protection equipment, including full coverage from head to toe, shields, and N95 masks. After I removed the cavity, cleaned the infection, and temporized the tooth, I prescribed medication to the patient and arranged for her to see the endodontist. It was our honor to provide this emergency care to a patient so much in need.

A Few of Many

These are just a few of the many inspiring stories from PDS-supported dentists and dentists around the world. With today’s challenging times, we must continue to support each other and work together. For it is together that we will one day emerge, stronger than ever.

Ms. Belleville is the director of communications and public relations at Pacific Dental Services. She can be reached at

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