Maintaining your child’s dental health during the COVID-19 crisis

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Most of your children are practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and washing their hands thoroughly, but their health can still be compromised during the pandemic if you are not helping them pay attention to their oral hygiene.  Here are four tips to help ensure that your child has a healthy smile during this unusual time for all of us.

#1 CLEANING THEIR TEETH AT HOME: If your child hasn’t been to a dentist since before the start of the pandemic, it becomes more critical that they stay on top of their dental health. Even though routines may have been disrupted, your child should still continue proper brushing and flossing as part of their daily dental routine. “Make sure your child brushes and flosses at least twice a day. If they are a toddler, you will need to be there to supervise. Try and make the brushing and flossing a fun activity,” said Dr. Lela Farmer of Scuba Smiles For Kids.

#2 TEETH GRINDING: COVID-19 has elevated the stress that many of us are experiencing, and our children are not immune. Just like adults, during times of stress, children may grind their teeth more than usual. Getting your child to bed at the same time each night, along with relaxation techniques can help reduce the likelihood of teeth grinding. “The next time your child sees a dentist, ask to check for any signs of grinding,” said Dr. Farmer. 

#3 NUTRITION: Stress can lead to a higher consumption of sugary snacks and acidic drinks and candy that can damage your child’s teeth. That is why it is critically important that our children eat a well-balanced diet so that they are being kind to their teeth. Of course a little treat is nice here and there, but don’t make these treats a regular part of their diet. 

#4 PREPARE THEM FOR THE DENTIST: If your child has an appointment to see their dentist, and it is the first time they are seeing their dentist since COVID-19, prepare them for changes at the dentist office, so they aren’t surprised. “Your dentist is taking every precaution to make sure each patient and their accompanying parent are as safe as possible while at the office,” said Dr. Farmer. For example, in the waiting room they may notice there are no toys available and our video games have been turned off, so that we limit the possibility of the virus spreading. “While in the chair they may notice their dentist is wearing different protective equipment. Explain to your child that the additional infection control measures are for their safety as well as for the dentist,” said Dr. Farmer.

Going to a dentist can be a scary adventure for a child to begin with, but when you add COVID-19 into the mix, the experience may be even more stressful. However, by preparing them for their visit, and keeping up with their dental health, that stress can be kept to a minimum while ensuring that the health of their teeth is in tip-top shape.