What to Expect When Your Child Visits The Dentist During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the early months of the pandemic and related closures, your child may have had a dentist appointment postponed. But now, the office is calling to reschedule that visit. You might be wondering if it is a good idea to visit the dentist right now?
The answer is “YES!”
Your dentist is an important part of your family’s health care team. Regular dental checkups provide a chance for dentists to identify any potential dental problems before they become worrisome. It’s also a great time for your whole family to learn about important habits that support not just a healthy mouth, but a healthy body too! And, don’t forget about that awesome new toothbrush you receive when you visit the dentist!
Children should have their first dental visit when their first tooth comes in, or no later than their first birthday. Then, visit the dentist every 6 months, because prevention is the best way for your child to stay healthy. However, if you see brown or black spots on their teeth or if your child mentions mouth or tooth pain, then call your child’s dentist right away.
So, what can you expect when you visit the dentist, in light of COVID-19?
Dental offices are receiving evidence-based guidance from The American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding infection control.
Tonya Fuqua, DDS, director of Child Oral Health for the Center for Children’s Health, encourages parents to ask any questions they may have about current safety procedures.
“Call the office and ask questions about what procedures are in place to keep your child safe,” Dr. Fuqua said. “Knowing what to expect can help both you and your child feel more comfortable!”
You may also receive a phone call before your appointment to ask questions about your child’s recent health. Dr. Fuqua says that on the day of the appointment, “you may be asked those questions again, and you and your child will most likely have your temperatures checked. Your child may be asked to rinse with a special mouthwash at the dental office, so have fun practicing swishing and spitting at home before the appointment.”
The staff will be wearing personal protective equipment such as face shields, masks, eye protection, gloves and gowns. Let your child know that the people they usually see at the dentist’s office might look different dressed in all that protective equipment, but they are still the same people behind the masks. Looking at staff photos on the office’s web page before the appointment can help your child remember who takes care of them at the dentist.
You can also take a few steps to help support safety at the dental office. If you or anyone in your family are not feeling well, are running a fever or have any other COVID-19 type symptoms, please call the office to let them know before you go in. Because typically only one adult can accompany the child for the appointment, limit others who come with you that day (they will most likely have to wait in the car). Everyone over age 2 should wear a mask at all times and of course, wash your hands before and after the visit.
If your family has let toothbrushing routines slide, now is a good time to get everyone brushing 2 times every day, for 2 minutes each time. Kids can make and decorate brushing charts or calendars to help strengthen those good habits! Floss between your teeth 1 time every day. Children should begin to floss as soon as they have two teeth touching. Other mouth-healthy habits for the whole family include choosing water or unflavored milk instead of sugar-sweetened drinks, eating healthy meals and snacks, and limiting sweets and candy.
Remember, good oral health can lead to good overall health. Things may look a little different at the dentist’s office, but be reassured that your dentist will continue to provide the highest quality of care in the safest manner possible.
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