Audio: Dentists say “Keep a regular schedule of care during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent future dental issues”

Little girl (child) sitting on dental chair and having dental treatment

During Children’s Dental Health Month, dentists are urging folks to keep up a regular schedule of care to prevent future dental issues, unless they live in an area with uncontrolled or high community spread of COVID-19. 

By age five, nearly half of all children have at least one cavity – but in the last year, many kids’ regular visits to the dentist have been interrupted because of the pandemic. Dental offices have been shown to be some of the safest places, due to many of the health and disinfectant policies that dentists have used for decades. Dr. Jeff Dalin, with the Greater St. Louis Dental Society, notes some of the changes – fewer patients at a time, folks waiting in their cars instead of the waiting room, temperature checks, COVID questionnaires.

 

 

During Children’s Dental Health Month, dentists are reminding folks how important it is to keep a regular preventative care schedule – but recommend avoiding non-emergency care wherever community spread of the coronavirus is high or uncontrolled.

Dr. Richard Gesker, chief dental officer with UnitedHealthcare, recommends cleaning a baby’s gums with a soft cloth in warm water, then, around age two, using a soft-bristle toothbrush and a dab of fluoride toothpaste. When a child’s back teeth start coming in, he says it’s time to teach them how to floss.

 

 

Dalin says people are having more dental problems than ever – and the biggest factor is stress. He’s seen many broken teeth, sore jaws, headaches, and cavities since the pandemic.

 

 

CDC oral health data shows racial and income disparities for children and adults – whether it be because of access to dental insurance, transportation for dental appointments, time to take off work, or fluoridated water.

Photo Credit: Missouri News Service