Oral Health Care


Expert View: Oral healthcare in children during Covid pandemic

Oral healthcare is one of the neglected areas of preventive wellness. Pedodontics specialist Dr Jayasudha Kalgudi MDS, shares her views on kids’ oral hygiene and its importance in the current pandemic. She is associated with Trawello Healthcare (healthykid.in) as part of their Expert Panel

The COVID pandemic has affected everyone on the planet. The fear of catching the virus has prompted folks from avoiding hospitals and clinics for the regular preventive health check-ups. Oral healthcare has taken a hit. Let’s take a look at how to take of oral health during the pandemic. Did you know that a healthy oral cavity acts as a barrier against all kinds of infections (including COVID-19). Normal salivary flow and salivary enzymes can aid host defence mechanism against viral infections & replication. The anti-viral effect of certain enzymes against herpes and coronavirus is well documented (Magister &Kos, 2013).

Generally, the prevention of oral diseases in children is based on regular check-ups and oral hygiene education. During the pandemic, it is difficult to manage regular follow-ups of dental consultations. Parents need to focus on prevention on orodental conditions aided by online awareness programs.

Effective home oral hygiene measures can prevent most prevalent oral diseases in children like dental decay. Parents should ensure children brush their teeth twice daily for two minutes using fluoride-based toothpaste. Dental floss is highly recommended in tooth exchange phase associated development of permanent teeth. Regular flossing can clean areas between the teeth to remove plaque, bacteria while keeping teeth and gums healthier.

Parents’ awareness of carioprotective and cariogenic properties of specific foods is important. Diet rich in fruit and vegetables protects from onset of decay and offers mechanical protection by stimulation of saliva. Length and frequency of child’s teeth exposure to sugar and sticky food (like chips, cookies and crackers), increases the risk of cavities. During pandemic, children are staying at home. Hence, consumption of junk food and high sugar content need to be restricted. Soft drinks with acidic content produce dental erosion and makes the tooth weaker and prone to decay.

Kids below 5 years are susceptible to early childhood caries. Parents should avoid night feeds and pacifiers dipped in honey/sugar etc used to encourage child’s sleep. Finally, parents’ oral health can have a protective effect for child and reduce the risk of mother-child bacterial transmission in this age group.

While the above preventive measures are helpful, parents need to know certain conditions in which a child requires immediate care. Acute dental pain that keeps them awake at night, traumatic injuries to teeth and soft tissues, swelling and loosening of teeth mandates a dentist visit. It is okay to visit the dentist taking care of all the necessary precautions.

In general, correct oral health must always be combined with healthy lifestyle, thus contributing to good general health. Therefore, physical activity at home, sleeping for an adequate number of hours and proper nutrition & hydration throughout the day are strongly recommended. These strategies are essential to boost immunity during the pandemic.