Pediatric State of Affairs

Ray Johnson, DMD, MAGD

I had the pleasure of having dinner with a local pediatric dentist recently and I inquired how pediatric offices had been fairing over the past year or so. Not surprisingly, pediatric offices are facing a lot of the same issues that general dentist offices are.

Immediately post pandemic, doctors were seeing an increase in the use of sodium diamine fluoride and the use of ART (atraumatic restorative technique) for restorations. These would limit air particulates and help to prolong whatever issue a child might be having until a more suitable restoration could be achieved. These techniques are almost always used more frequently by a pediatric dentist compared to a general dentist. In the most recent months, it was noted that procedures have returned to pre-pandemic variety.

It was also noted that larger and more numerous cavities per patient are being seen. This can be potentially attributed to mouth breathing under prolonged mask wearing, less frequent/lower quality home care, and more frequent snacking. The stress and unfamiliarity of at-home schooling and a less rigid schedule can have devastating effects on the pediatric population’s dentition.
Pediatric dentists, like most general dentists, are also seeing a similar backlog of patients due to office protocols and patients waiting longer to be seen.

I hope we can all take some pearls away from this quarter’s magazine and pay extra attention to the special circumstances that our youth are having to deal with and the effect that it is having on their oral health.