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by guest contributor Rosie Kickish, DMD, Inspiration Dental in Riverview, FL
Everyday life looks different lately. We shop for groceries online and curbside, refrain from visiting loved ones for birthdays and holidays, and we wonder how safe it is to do anything publicly. In navigating this new normal, with the world wearing masks and social distancing, you may not be focused on your child’s regular checkups, specifically those for their dental health. You may even be concerned about the risk involved in going to a dentist since, early on, they were placed at the top of the risk of exposure to COVID-19 list for health professionals. Now, almost a year into the global spread of the virus, a lot has changed, including the precautions dental offices are taking to keep patients safe.
You will find most dental offices ask that you remain in your car or outside of the building upon arrival until your child’s scheduled appointment. Many are also doing temperature checks and COVID-19 screenings as you walk into the building. They minimize the amount of people entering the building by allowing only one person back with the child while dental work is being done. So, for each child being worked on, they would have a parent or guardian present and limited to one. Additionally, dental offices have always used high-quality disinfectants between each patient’s visit. This cuts down on the potential spread of germs through contact with hard surfaces. Dentists and dental assistants are wearing an increased amount of personal protective equipment in each visit to limit potential airborne spread. In many cases this means they are wearing masks and shields at all times, except for when they are eating or drinking. You may also look for added measures such as air purifiers placed throughout the office, which help limit airborne contaminants.
It is important to continue your child’s dental care and take them for a checkup every six months, even during a global pandemic. While the dentist’s office isn’t every kid’s idea of a fun time, their experience can be made much more difficult if regular visits are delayed and lead to extensive dental work down the road. In addition to the emotional distress this can cause, it can also lead to serious physical complications. Missing an appointment could cause a small cavity to grow larger, potentially leading to infection or pain that would otherwise be avoided. It could also mean more discomfort for your child at hygiene visits due to plaque and calculus buildup over time, causing inflammation and bone loss. Even though baby teeth do eventually fall out, they are integral in maintaining space for proper development and promoting overall health throughout the body. You may feel uneasy when visiting the dentist, but with the new safety measures being employed, it has never been safer.
As is the case in all preventative health facilities, rules and regulations vary from office to office. If you have questions about the precautions your child’s dental office is taking, feel free to call them to ensure the experience is comfortable and safe before you schedule an appointment. If you do not feel they are meeting the standards of safety set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), call other pediatric dental offices and find the one that works best for your child’s health. Dentists understand this a particularly stressful time for parents. We want you to feel safe just as much as we want you to be safe.