The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry (BSPD) has stated that it agrees with The Local Government Association that there should be a resumption in toothbrushing schemes in early years settings as soon as practical and such schemes are essential to counteract the possible increase in dental decay as a result of lockdown.
Dr Claire Stevens, BSPD’s spokesperson, says the LGA is right to highlight the risk of worsening dental decay in children as a result of Covid-19 as well as the guidance that is now available on establishing such toothbrushing schemes. (1)
BSPD is collecting the data to assess the impact of the pandemic on children’s oral health. Prior to the pandemic, the figures for children having general anaesthetics for multiple extractions were starting to come down. This was thanks to the concerted efforts of many people, driving up preventive interventions and activities.
The cancellation of general anaesthetics for multiple dental extractions during COVID-19 will inevitably mean that hospitals are working through a backlog of cases once elective (non-emergency) procedures restart. There is also the possibility of increased dental caries in children, the result of being out of education and stuck at home with greater opportunities to snack.
BSPD would like to see children suffering from dental decay to be treated in primary care where possible, to reduce the need for onward referral into hospital. We have been producing resources to support GDPs provide silver diamine fluoride, a technique which arrests the progress of dental decay and may avoid the need for a general anaesthetic entirely. (2)
Dr Stevens commented: “As ever BSPD is keen to work with all stakeholders involved in the care and welfare of children to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on their oral health.”
Meanwhile, Dr Saul Konviser from the Dental Wellness Trust, also spoke on the matter: “Everyday we, as dentists, see a large number of children that require not just a simple filling but often multiple fillings or extractions which is often a result of consuming too many sugary foods and drinks. What is worse is that it is almost completely unavoidable. From the work that we do, we know strategies such as oral health prevention and toothbrushing programmes in schools and nurseries is one way of supporting this long overdue ‘prevention better than cure’ ethos. We now urgently call on the Government for more funding – especially as lockdown prevented many children from accessing a clean toothbrush and toothpaste.”