During the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, before we knew how to adequately protect ourselves from the virus, many dental offices were closed except for emergency situations. While it’s true that the vast majority of dental offices are now open – and taking extra precautions to ensure the good health of their staff and their patients – it is possible that there could be a shutdown again if the virus surges before there’s a vaccine readily available. This is of particular concern during the upcoming fall and winter months, when we will be dealing with not only COVID-19, but the annual flu season as well. If your dentist office does have to close for a period of time, it’s important to know how to take care of your children’s oral health until they can return to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Here are a few tips on how to keep up with your children’s oral health in the midst of a pandemic:
- Make sure they brush and floss every day. If your child’s next dental visit is delayed for whatever reason, now is not the time to let up on their daily oral hygiene routine. Make sure they brush twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, and that they floss at least once a day. If you’re not sure how diligent they are, watch them while they do it.
- Minimize their sweet snacks and beverages, and limit junk food. One of the biggest contributors to poor oral health is a poor diet. Snacks like cookies, ice cream and candy increase their chances of developing tooth decay. But other junk food snacks also stick to kids’ teeth – foods like potato chips and crackers, for example. Instead, encourage your little ones to enjoy snacks that are not only good for their overall health, but for their oral health as well. Some examples of healthy snacks are cheese, yogurt and nuts.
- Make sure their beverages are tooth-healthy as well. Give your child milk to drink with meals, and in between meals encourage them to drink fluoridated water. Most municipal water systems have added fluoride, but if yours does not, you can find fluoridated bottled water instead.
While we don’t anticipate having to close dental practices again anytime soon, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us all how important it is to have a plan in place just in case. Follow these simple tips to help maintain your children’s oral health if and when they can’t visit the dentist. And if your dentist office is open, don’t hesitate to take your kids in for their regular dental visits. Remember that your dentist and his staff are taking every precaution to make sure that their staff and their patients stay healthy.