If you have been skipping your own routine dental cleanings during the COVID-19 pandemic, odds are you have been holding off on scheduling those cleanings for your kids as well. Unfortunately, what is a less-than-stellar situation for your mouth could be an all-out disaster for your child’s oral health. If your child is overdue for a dental cleaning, you could be setting them up for a lifetime of dental problems.
According to insights from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, parents have struggled to take kids to the dentist during COVID-19 and, furthermore, are often letting oral hygiene training slide at home. “It’s had a large and profound effect we will continue to feel as the pandemic goes on and for a time after,” said WVU chair of pediatric dentistry Gina Graziani. She warned that pediatric oral health can deteriorate faster than adult oral health, which makes adhering to dental best practices even more important for kids than it is for their parents.
The good news is that a lot of the things that contribute to good (or deteriorating) oral health are relatively simple. In fact, diet and dental hygiene, both things you can control from home, are the biggest factors in your day-to-day behavior when it comes to preventing oral diseases in kids. Graziani suggests limiting snacking between meals – probably the hardest thing to implement when kids are accustomed to a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack in the traditional school setting – and establishing water as a beverage of choice instead of sugary drinks. She also recommended children and parents brush twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste.
Good oral health, like most things, begins at home, but getting the kids to the dentist’s office is crucial. Cavities grow faster in baby teeth and become painful sooner than they would in an adult mouth. Perhaps of even greater concern is the rising risk of gingivitis in pediatric patients who do not visit the dentist regularly. As with cavities, gum disease progresses more quickly in children than in adults, so pain becomes an issue sooner. Also, once a patient has had gum disease once, they are more susceptible to recurrence. Even if your child is not currently complaining of pain in their gums, if they are bleeding then you need to see your dentist immediately. According to data from the Nemours Foundation, more than half of all teens have some form of gum disease that likely is not yet diagnosed. Skipping routine dental cleanings makes it less likely a problem will be spotted and corrected early and makes it more likely a problem will occur.
Worried about your child’s oral health? We can help! Visit us online to learn more and make an appointment at PatCrawfordDDS.com.