The outbreak of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus, also called COVID-19 or Coronavirus, has resulted in the implementation of social distancing across the nation. While the federal government has recommended social distancing as a way of slowing the spread of the virus, some state and local governments have taken these recommendations one step further and called for their own mandates. As a result, people across the nation are staying home.
In response to the federal recommendations, the American Dental Association issued a statement on April 1st calling for all dentists to temporarily suspend elective and preventative treatments to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. In fact, the ADA recommends that dentists only open their offices to treat urgent or emergency cases.
During this temporary pause of preventative dental services, it is more important than ever to make sure your child’s oral health is protected. The best case scenario for everyone is to maintain your child’s oral health and prevent the need for emergency dental treatments. Therefore, we have compiled a few tips on how to protect your child’s oral health during this period of social distancing:
Maintain Daily Oral Hygiene Routine
With all the various changes that have occurred as a result of social distancing protocols, it can be helpful to stick to one familiar part of your child’s daily routine. Not only that, but brushing twice a day and flossing daily is an important part of maintaining your child’s oral health. Keeping up with oral hygiene removes plaque and bacteria buildup on the surface of your child’s teeth and decreases the risk of developing dental cavities. For the best results, make sure your child brushes for two minutes twice a day using a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
Manage Their Diet
In addition to practicing good daily oral hygiene, you can also help your child’s oral health by managing the foods they eat. Specifically, you will want to limit the amount of sugar your child consumes since sugar feeds the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. This means limiting sweet treats and carbs, as well as providing water or milk instead of soda or fruit juice.
Other foods that you will want to avoid feeding your child include anything that is excessively hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky. Unfortunately, these foods can potentially cause chips, fractures, and even dislodged dental fillings. Therefore, in order to prevent a possible dental emergency, it is advised to temporarily avoid these foods.
Discourage Bad Oral Habits
The final way to maintain your child’s oral health is to prevent dental emergencies from occurring. The best way to prevent an emergency situation is to discourage bad oral habits that have been found to cause significant damage to the teeth. Examples of such habits include nail biting, chewing on ice or toys, and using their teeth as tools to hold or open things. Basically, you will want to discourage your child from using their teeth for anything besides eating.
By maintaining your child’s daily oral hygiene routine, managing their diet, and discouraging bad oral habits, you can help preserve your child’s oral health during this COVID-19 outbreak. These tips will also help to minimize the risk for dental emergencies that require immediate attention. With that being said, accidents still happen. In the case that you believe your child is experiencing a dental emergency, call our office for further guidance.
Dr. Leyster is a board-certified pediatric dental specialist. He is recognized as a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. He has served as faculty as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in the Division of Public Health and Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Leyster belongs to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, California Society of Pediatric Dentistry, California Dental Association, Pacific Northwest Dental Association, and the American Dental Association.