- Dr. David Alfaro
How to Care for Your Child's Teeth
One of the drawbacks of living somewhere away from major centres is that specialized healthcare may not be available in the area, forcing us to travel for hours if something complicated arises.
This is a significant challenge for parents with children who would be best seen by a specialist in dental care for kids. There is no pediatric dentist in town and nobody flies in to provide these services. When a child presents to our office with complex dental needs that are beyond our scope of practice, the best local resource is the community dentist that works at the hospital. They have been great at providing an important service to children in the area, but are now overwhelmed with a big waitlist.
Hospital dentistry in Nelson is backed up until the end of the year!
Just as COVID-19 shut down many non-urgent medical procedures at hospitals across the province, the dental unit at the Nelson hospital was put on pause, resulting in the postponing of many appointments. Children referred to the hospital for their dental care are being scheduled for late 2020. This is a significant time for a little one to wait when their teeth hurt!
Every year, over 125 kids are seen in the hospital here in Nelson for their dental care. This is a concerning amount as a baseline, and the coronavirus pandemic has stressed this system even further.
So please…..help keep your child’s teeth healthy with these following steps:
Brush and floss your child’s teeth for them. They may not like it, but they need it. Until they are coordinated enough to get things super clean on their own, including flossing, it is on the adults to make sure this happens.
Avoid constant snacking on sticky sugary foods. Those vegetable puffs? Sticky carbs. Goldfish or crackers? Sticky carbs. Fruit snacks? Sticky carbs. You get my point. These types of foods get mushed into the nooks and crannies of teeth, giving the bacteria plenty to feed on. It is disappointing to see how many kids snacks are bad for teeth.
Fluoride toothpaste. Please just use fluoride regardless of what they tell you at the health store. Nothing else actually strengthens teeth and tooth decay is way worse than any potential risk of tooth brushing with fluoride. By the time your child has cavities, the disease process has started; it is much easier to prevent dental caries than to stop it once it has taken hold. This has been a frustrating issue since moving here so if you have questions, please contact me or check out my articles on fluoride. Talk to your dentist about how much and when to start using fluoridated toothpaste with your kids.
Go to the dentist. A professional cleaning and checkup is vital to promoting healthy teeth. Get the x-rays that are recommended. All of the offices in town are back up and running so give one a call if you do not have a dentist, and if cost is a factor, there is a low-cost dental clinic (the TEETH clinic). We are very lucky to have many good options for general dental care in our community.
It is cliche, but it really breaks my heart when I meet a child for the first time and I see their teeth full of holes, or even abscesses and infections. Kids may not complain about pain until things are really bad, so parents may not know how advanced the decay is until we show them on the x-rays. It is super important to keep a close eye on your child's dental health, starting with keeping things as clean as possible.
I hope everyone is trying to make the best of this COVID-19 situation and is spending quality time with their social bubble, and is doing the things we need to do to keep our community safe.
Thanks for reading!