Mother teaching her daughter how to brush her teeth

Kids Oral Health May Be Disproportionally Affected During the Pandemic

Date: April 2021

Author: Natalie Bradley BDS MFDS Dip SCD RCSEd

During tough times, our routines can suffer and good habits beneficial to our health slip. During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been in isolation, lock down and social distancing. In some cases, this has had a negative impact on health. In particular, the disruption to the normal routines of children, such as having to home school and staying at home, may result in their oral health being overlooked.

Along with disruption in our routines, our diets may have changed and the cookie jar is just too tempting for our children. Habits such as frequent snacking or baking sweet goodies have all increased the risk of children developing dental caries.

Parents need to be sure to continue with good home care for their children, as well as take them for their regular dental appointments. In addition to evaluating our young patients and providing any necessary treatment at their dental appointments, dentists should also advise parents on the best methods to maintain their child's oral health and direct them to resources that they will find helpful.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has resources for parents to help them with information and tools to help their children improve their oral health including brochures, frequently asked questions, and more.

Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (BSBF) has a mountain of information, books, videos, songs, coloring photos and games all reinforcing good oral hygiene and dietary habits for children. Information for children is age-appropriate, and resources are also available for parents, guardians and for the classroom. All of the resources are free to access online.

Parents should also be counselled on the best oral health products for their children, such as Colgate Baby Toothpaste for infants and children 0 to 2 years-of-age, Colgate Kids Toothpaste (ages 3 to 5 years) and Colgate Kids Magic Toothpaste for children 6 to 9 years. These have the appropriate level of fluoride. Parents should also be counselled on the amount of toothpaste that should be used. For children up to 3 years of age, a smear is recommended and, for children 3 to 6 years, a pea-sized amount. Children's toothbrushes or even cool new products to motivate children into good oral health habits such as the smart connected hum toothbrush are available.

One of the key determinants of children's oral health is the support and reinforcement of parents in brushing habits and healthy food choices. Research has shown that oral health is something that can easily be overlooked during times of stress - and right now is one of those times!. The consequences of this can be lifelong detrimental effects on the dentition. It is especially important that we prioritize the oral health of children.