'Covidies' or Cavities: Children's Teeth Need Attention
Thursday, February 24, 2022
A pandemic doesn't stop tooth decay, and dentists are reminding parents to get their kids back on a regular schedule before COVID-19 fallout does more damage.
At her practice in Houston, Rita Cammarata said it's clear that Americans put off exams and cleanings at the height of the pandemic, and that includes the dental health of their children.
"We've noticed an uptick in cavities," said Cammarata. "So, that year or two that we took off going to the dentist with our kids has really impacted their dental health."
She noted that cavities can worsen significantly over time, and reminds parents that tooth decay is irreversible.
February is Children's Dental Health Month and it's estimated that one in four Texas children lack "excellent" or even very "good" dental health.
Cammarata - a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry who has been recognized by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry - said kids tend to get cavities quicker than adults, and those cavities often are larger.
At the same time, children can have a tooth infection but not realize something's wrong until their face is swollen and the pain is overwhelming.
"And it's typically the swelling that catches peoples' attention," said Cammarata. "And then, boom - they'll head to the emergency room or they become an emergency visit at a dental office."
At her office, Cammarata said visits are finally getting back to pre-COVID numbers, with kids coming in for checkups every six months. She said regular visits are usually easier on a parent's pocketbook, and can prevent unexpected dental emergencies.
"And that always happens on a Saturday night," said Cammarata, "when no one is available end you've got big dinner plans with friends and now what do you do? Had those things had been handled earlier, those things could have probably been handled a whole lot easier - especially for the child."
Some dentists have noted stress-related dental issues in the past two years and encourage getting an evaluation for a "night guard" to prevent teeth grinding and clenching which can damage teeth and encourage gum recession and tooth loss.
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