What if I can’t afford to take my child to the dentist?

As we all know, dental care can be very expensive and ongoing. Yet, it is important to take the responsibility of your child’s dental health seriously.
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As we all know, dental care can be very expensive and ongoing. Yet, it is important to take the responsibility of your child’s dental health seriously. Tooth decay is considered a form of child neglect and abuse. BYY dental expert, Sarie Liebenberg, gives some suggestions.

The cavity will get bigger and deeper and more expensive to treat. Often what shows up as a tiny cavity on the outer part of the tooth, has already destroyed the tooth from the inside. The severity of a decay can’t always be judged by the size of the cavity visible to the naked eye.
The cavity will get bigger and deeper and more expensive to treat. Often what shows up as a tiny cavity on the outer part of the tooth, has already destroyed the tooth from the inside. The severity of a decay can’t always be judged by the size of the cavity visible to the naked eye.
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Fluoride is a great protection against decay and in my opinion is essential in dental care.

Brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day

  • Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is greatly responsible for increasing the risk of tooth decay. Other factors also play a role in good dental health, but the reduction of sugar in the diet, will have a big and positive impact on your child’s dental health.
Reduce sugar intake. Sugar is greatly responsible for increasing the risk of tooth decay
  • Interdental care. By brushing alone, we only clean 60% of the teeth. Using dental floss or interdental brushes will clean the remaining 40% of the teeth. In young children, there are natural spaces between the baby teeth. These spaces will get smaller and start closing as the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Once these spaces are closed and the teeth are touching, it is important to remove trapped plaque and food particles with floss or interdental brushes to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
In young children, there are natural spaces between the baby teeth. These spaces will get smaller and start closing as the permanent teeth begin to erupt. Once these spaces are closed and the teeth are touching, it is important to remove trapped plaque and food particles with floss or interdental brushes to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Interdental care.1 - BabyYumYum
  • Wash away food particles with water after meals. It is sometimes difficult for children to notice or feel that food is stuck between the teeth. Encourage them to rinse their mouths after eating. Not only will the water dissolve the sugar, but it can assist in dislodging food particles caught between the teeth or in the deep fissures of the molars. This will reduce the risk of tooth decay.

• Wash away food particles with water after meals. It is sometimes difficult for children to notice or feel that food is stuck between the teeth. Encourage them to rinse their mouths after eating.

  • Allow treats at mealtimes rather than allowing your child to snack all day long. Every time you eat something, the pH of the mouth drops. Tooth decay typically occurs at a lower pH. Saliva will help to restore the pH of the mouth, but this needs some time. If your child eats non-stop, the pH of the mouth doesn’t have sufficient time to increase to high enough levels to minimise the risk of tooth decay.
Allow treats at mealtimes rather than allowing your child to snack all day long
  • Outreach programs from the department of health. Dental professionals who work for the department of health often engage in initiatives where they reach out to communities by making dental care accessible and affordable. Keep your eyes open for information or make a phone call and enquire about such initiatives. 
  • Sponsorship from dental companies. Toothpaste and toothbrush manufacturers sometimes host activities where dental professionals do free dental screenings and give dental care information to the public.
  • Oral Health Month promotions by companies or private practitioners. Once a year, usually in September, South Africa celebrates Dental Health Month with the focus on improving the public’s perception of oral care. Some companies and private practitioners might run special prices and/or services during that period. 
  • Government clinics & hospitals. Advice, information, and sometimes basic care are available from your local clinic. If they are not able to assist you, they will put you in touch with someone who can assist you. Some government hospitals have dental clinics that are mainly used for training purposes. At these dental clinics the dental students and post graduate students can provide dental treatment at minimal cost to the public.
  • Screenings at school. This is another initiative funded either by the government or privately. With the permission of the parents, children can have free dental screenings at the school. Recommendations and advice are given. 
  • Ask around as some dentists have a policy to do a certain amount of pro-bono work.
  • Dental treatment, like many other things, is often more expensive in the big cities. Prices are driven by demand and socioeconomic factors. It might be a good idea to enquire about prices of dental treatment in surrounding areas, smaller cities and even in more rural areas.

Also read: How to care for your teeth naturally

You might be interested in: A complete guide to teething

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