Has the pandemic created cavity-prone children?

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- February is national children's dental health month and pediatric dentists are worried many kids aren't keeping up with their dental hygiene during the pandemic. President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Dr. Jeanie Beauchamp spoke with CBS 58 about why parents shouldn't be brushing off dental visits and how the pandemic has created cavity-prone kids.

"So many people have been quarantined at home, they've kind of pushed off their dental appointments and other appointments, and all of a sudden they're coming back into dental offices and we're finding a lot more cavities than we used to. We're really trying to encourage parents and families to you know get their children back into the dentist office," said Dr. Beauchamp.

What happens if you put off these appointments?

"If there had been a small cavity now it's a large cavity so you're going to have more problems, plus I think they're not taking as good of care of them at home because they're not going to those routine cleanings. So they're not getting the reinforcement of how to brush your teeth, how often to brush your teeth and they've kind of slacked a little bit. So now they've got more buildup on their teeth, it takes longer to clean their teeth and then if there are cavities that have gotten bad. Then you have to look at do we have infection, do we have to take a tooth out...so it turns into a lot bigger procedure than just a routine checkup that's hopefully a fun visit for the children," said Dr. Beauchamp.

Dr. Beauchamp says that now is a good time to bring kids back to the pediatric dentist office.

"We want to get them caught back up and be sure their mouths are healthy and everything and dental offices are really safe places to go. Dentistry has always been in the forefront of infection control. We've always done exactly like the CDC tells us to do before the pandemic even and now we're doing a little more precautions, we're social distancing, we're asking more questions in our questionnaire, we're having a lot of families stay in their car until we're ready for them and then just bringing fewer patients in from the waiting from at a time. You know we're trying to do all the little extra things to make sure the children stay safe and parents feel comfortable bringing them in."

As far as beverages or snacks to keep kids teeth clean and healthy, Dr. Beauchamp says options abound. 

"There have been a lot of virtual schools and jobs and everything, with the kitchen right down the hall there's been constant snacking and so it's not always been healthy. We want to encourage if you're snacking, hopefully not all day long, but when you do go for fresh fruit, cheese, nuts, anything that's not that sugary candy type snack. Then when you want a beverage of course we want fluoridated water because that is good for your teeth. If you do have a sweet drink we ask that you only do it during a meal time and then it will get diluted some what and then it's not as hard on your teeth."

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