The last 12 months have been tough on everyone, especially those with young children. If navigating a global pandemic isn’t hard enough, add on virtual learning, ever-changing school, and sports restrictions, making sure your kids are wearing masks and washing their hands, all while trying to stay sane. I get it! As a father myself, my heart goes out to every parent that is juggling it all.
So it comes as no surprise that perhaps this year you skipped your child’s dental exam. Let me tell you why it’s time to reconsider that.
Your Child’s Oral Health Is Part of Their Overall Health
As an orthodontist and co-founder of the pediatric group dental practice The Super Dentists, I can assure you that delaying or ignoring pediatric dental issues can only make things worse. In fact, 42% of children aged 2-11 will develop cavities. When these go unnoticed, dental decay can spread to nerves faster on children than adults because the enamel on baby teeth is thinner.
Orthodontic problems, similarly, have a limited time window for optimal treatment too. Once that window closes, options for treatment become restricted and alternative solutions may be more invasive and cost significantly more. The results may, unfortunately, be subpar as well.
Your child’s oral health can also impact their sleep quality (if they’re in pain, they won’t sleep as soundly), which can in turn affect their performance at school and other activities. And one of the most compelling reasons to take care of your kid’s teeth is also one of the most heartbreaking: a leading reason kids are bullied or teased at school is because of their teeth.
Reimagining Dentistry During COVID-19
A year ago this month, we had just finished celebrating the grand opening of The Super Dentists in Escondido, our sixth and largest location yet. My staff and I were thrilled to start serving a new part of the county on the importance of oral health. Little did we know what was to come.
When the pandemic hit, The Super Dentists followed the mandatory shutdown orders by the state, leaving only the central office in Kearny Mesa open for patients needing emergency dental care. Those early days were challenging for us, as it was for most people. We had several long days leveraging relationships to keep stock of precious PPE and hand sanitizer.
While we were in lockdown, my staff and I became highly focused (dare I say obsessed?) with outfitting our offices with the most comprehensive and state-of-the-art safety equipment out there. The health and safety of our patients was and remains our number one priority. We upgraded our HVAC systems and invested in high-tech air filtration with UV light technology, exceeding public health guidelines. We also minimized all our patient-facing processes, and now offer many digital/virtual/paperless options to limit physical interactions.
As we optimistically look ahead to when it’s safe to be social again, we plan to emerge from COVID-19 by picking up where we left off with a grand opening celebration for our Escondido office, as well as events to celebrate our 25th anniversary in San Diego with the community.
If there is anything I can impart to you for Children’s Oral Health Month, it’s to remember to give your teeth some extra love and care. Oral health extends far beyond our mouths; it impacts our lung health, cardiovascular system, confidence, appearance, and ultimately, our quality of life.
This Op-Ed was originally posted on Times of San Diego.com on 2/19/21.