Mary Lyn Koval did not want to go to the dentist. A marketing communications consultant in upstate New York, Koval works from home and felt she was staying safe during the coronavirus pandemic. One of her childhood fillings had broken, however. “I put off going for two weeks. But I was afraid that if I’d exposed a cavity, it would devolve into a series of root canals” instead of a simple filling replacement, she says. Dental offices were then still closed by state order. Yet urgent and emergency procedures were allowed. Should Koval have chosen to delay treatment and risk a root canal—or worse, a tooth extraction? Or should she have risked exposing herself to COVID-19 at the dentist’s office? These questions are all part of the new pandemic calculus.
All states have now allowed dental practices to resume elective procedures (New York started doing so on June 1). Yet