With the rapid emergence of SARS-CoV-2 cases, the federal government issued a recommendation for social distancing. Also referred to as COVID-19 or Coronavirus, this virus is considered to be highly contagious, therefore social distancing is said to be the best way to combat the potential spread of the virus. This has led to several state and local governments passing various “shelter in place” orders and shutting down non-essential businesses.
The American Dental Association has also issued their own statement pertaining to the situation of social distancing and COVID-19. On April 1st, the ADA advised dentists around the country to temporarily suspend elective and preventative dental procedures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Until April 31st at the earliest, many dentists will only open their office for urgent or emergency cases.
During this temporary suspension of preventative dental services, it is essential to help your child maintain their oral health. Not only does preserving your child’s oral health prevent them from needing restorative dental procedures, but it also reduces the risk of dental emergency, as well as an office visit that could expose them to the virus. In order to preserve your child’s oral health, here are some steps to follow during this period of social distancing:
Enforce Daily Oral Hygiene
It is more important than ever to enforce your child’s daily oral hygiene routine. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily removes excess plaque and bacteria from their mouth and significantly decreases the risk of cavity formation. In a time where your child’s routine may be all over the place, keeping the familiarity of their oral hygiene routine may actually be comforting. If, however, they still fight you on the matter, there are various resources you can use to entice them to brush and floss.
Watch Their Diet
Another important way to preserve their oral health is by watching their diet and regulating their sugar intake. Not only will this help their teeth, but it will keep them calmer. Since sugars are the primary source of food for decay-causing bacteria, less sugar means a decreased risk of cavities and vice versa. Try to limit the amount of sweet treats and carbs they consume, and provide water or milk instead of soda or fruit juices.
Additionally, you may also want to temporarily avoid giving them food that may be difficult for them to chew. This includes anything that is excessively hard, chewy, sticky, or crunchy. This is because these foods can actually cause a dental emergency by breaking or chipping teeth. If your child has a dental filling, these foods can also potentially dislodge it.
Discourage Bad Oral Habits
There are certain oral habits that can be potentially damaging to your child’s teeth. These habits include nail biting, chewing on ice or toys, or using their teeth as tools to open or hold things. In some cases, these habits can even lead to broken teeth that require emergency dental treatment. Therefore, they are best to be avoided to prevent the need for an emergency dental appointment.
During this period of social distancing and the resulting temporary suspension of preventative dental services, we hope that these guidelines will allow you to effectively maintain your child’s oral health and prevent dental emergencies. However, if you have an urgent concern about your child’s oral health, please call our office for further instruction.