The paediatric dental team within the cleft service are here to give advice, screen for dental problems at certain ages and take on children for courses of treatment which are more complex than usual care from general dental practitioners, however it is really important that all children are registered with and seen regularly by a local dentist, as well as care provided by the hospital.
We are aware that many patients are currently experiencing difficulties accessing dental care locally, as many dental surgeries are either going totally private, or closing down entirely. Below are some additional resources for finding a dentist:
- Ring around all dentists you find in your area on Google and ask if they are accepting NHS patients. If possible, physically go to the dental surgeries to ask.
- Phone 111 to see if they have a list of dentists accepting new patients.
- Look at dentists on the NHS website.
- Call NHS England’s customer contact centre on 0300 311 2233.
What to do in an emergency
If a baby tooth has been knocked out or fractured, we would advise you call 0333 240 1311 for advice. If your child has a swollen face, either call 111 or attend your local A&E department. If an adult tooth has been knocked out, please follow the guidance below:
- Pick up the tooth by the crown (shiny part usually seen in the mouth)
- If very dirty, lick the root clean with saliva (you can use cold milk or saline if immediately available, but don’t delay). Do not rub or use disinfectant.
- Push it straight back into the gap it has come out from, matching it to the tooth next door. If done straight away (less than 5 minutes) it will not hurt and can give it a very good chance of survival.
Bite on a clean tissue, ring your dentist and get there as quick as you can for the tooth to be checked and splinted or ring 111 for emergency dentist details if you have no dentist.
Reducing the chances of tooth decay and gum disease
When children get dental problems they can often progress very swiftly and attention is needed to prevent pain and discomfort. There are many things as parents / carers we can do to reduce the chances of tooth decay and gum disease:
- Twice daily toothbrushing for sufficient time to clean all tooth surfaces and gum edges. The toothbrush can be manual or electric, but must have a small enough head (the part with bristles) to fit around each tooth. Toothpaste should have fluoride in it as a regular, very small doses of fluoride received from brushing has shown to improve tooth enamel quality. Children under 10 will need some supervision when brushing. Children under 7 will need hands-on help with brushing. Toothpaste should contain 1400ppm fluoride. After brushing, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste but NOT rinse out the mouth. Some children over the age of 10 can have a prescribed toothpaste with higher fluoride.
- Sensible eating aids good oral health. This means eating 3 meals a day but limiting snacks between meals and choosing non-sugary snacks such as bread sticks, plain rice cakes, vegetable sticks, bread and butter or cheese. Foods that should be as treats only are cakes, biscuits, sweets and chocolate. Fruits can be very high in natural sugars so avoid fruit juices/ smoothies and drink water as much as possible. Milk is good in the daytime. Remember that in the last hour before bed that only water should be given.
- If you can access local dental care then you can also benefit from regular checks to catch any dental disease early, benefit from preventative interventions such as fluoride varnish applications – recommended in children with clefts 3 to 4 monthly, and fissure sealants – a plastic stick-on coating for grooves in the teeth where food gets stuck – to make them easier to clean.
Dentist access questionnaire
If you have time and would like us to map out the extent of the problems regarding dental access across our region, please complete our online questionnaire:
Or fill in the downloadable form below and send / email back to us. Should you have any dental concerns you would like to inform us of separately to this, please email the Cleft.NET.East team.