Often they decide for themselves whether to brush their teeth at home.

Dentists at Youth Dental Care Amsterdam report more cavities, more inflamed gums and more wear and tear on Amsterdam children’s teeth. Prevention may have reached its peak during the time of corona, such as brushing your teeth twice a day.

Malika Civil

It’s still early days for tough characters, but the cues mobile dentists Angelica Setiaman and Lilian Brands are getting from their dental chair don’t bode well. What really stands out, according to Setiaman, is the large number of children with dental erosion.

Tooth erosion agents include soft drinks and juice boxes. “And then, how you drink it is also important,” says Setiaman. “For your teeth, you better pour a cup of cola once, hop, backwards. Because then you have a sad moment in your mouth. Saliva neutralizes that again.”

According to Setiaman, the exact opposite happens in games. “The game makes the child rush, so he takes small sips at a time, which keeps the acidity level in the mouth low for a relatively long time, sometimes for hours. Playing is stressful, so children will also suffer a little. This is doubly bad: the stressful moment and the crisis. Then it becomes Tooth enamel is soft and fades sooner.”

This is bad news, because tooth enamel does not grow back. Then we see flattened nodules on the molars, pits, and exposed dentin, which make the teeth appear shorter and yellower. And we’re already seeing it with elementary school students.”


Setiaman and Brands are two of the 29 dentists at Youth Dental Care Amsterdam (JTVA), who see 26,000 children each year in 150 primary schools and in four permanent clinics and treat them as necessary. It’s kind of a traveling circus, where the school’s dental clinic is set up for a few weeks at a time.

Any student is welcome as long as his/her parents allow it. As with a “regular” dentist, dental care costs for children up to the age of eighteen are reimbursed from basic insurance.

So JTVA dentists really go to the kids. The hope is that it will encourage dental visits in these children. According to figures from Vektis, a knowledge institute for the Dutch healthcare sector, 29 percent of Amsterdam children did not go to the dentist in 2020, which amounts to nearly 30,000 children. That was over a year ago, when a quarter hadn’t gone. The national rate of children who neglected the dentist in 2020 is 23 percent.

turbulent rhythm

The fact that fewer children have gone to the dentist in the past two years is in part a result of the corona procedures. For example, the dentist was closed during the first closure. However, Brands has the strong impression that visiting the dentist isn’t the only thing that has peaked.

“I have a feeling the rhythm has been disrupted in many homes,” Brands says. “I can also hear it in the conversations we have with the children: they are more in control – by sniffing, playing and going to sleep. They no longer do it when their mother says it is time for bed. If the parents themselves are already under the fleece, there is no one left to check. Than if they clean properly. It takes a while before you see the consequences of that in your mouth. These symptoms show up in inflamed gums, more cavities and dental erosion. Often, I think, “John, this kid has always been fine and now He suffers from tooth decay.

Dentists also see many children who are overweight. It underscores the lingering fear that children are starting to snack more during the lockdowns, when they actually have had less opportunity to exercise. So the dentist also has a signaling function in that area, Brands says. “We see these children every six months, which is why we sometimes notice that help is needed before the GP or parent-child teams. In such a case, we refer such a child to the right place.”

Not surprisingly

Brands understand that it has been a very difficult time for parents to combine their work with the care and education of children. In this sense, you are not surprised by the developments. “I talked to a teacher who circled the kids in her class to deliver some things. She said the kids opened the door with a pacifier in their mouths. If they eat pacifiers too often, it is of course disastrous for the teeth.”

JTVA dentists want children’s oral care to be maintained urgently. Now and in the future, because healthy teeth are important to your overall health. Periodontitis, for example, leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Partly for this reason, they are urging schools to keep space available for a care job, so the school’s mobile team can set up a temporary practice. Brands: “In the new construction of schools, the number of square meters per child is decreasing. For accessibility, it is really important that we can work on the school building.”

the responsibility

Almost all school boards, Brands says, see urgency. “But I once sat in front of the principal who said, ‘I really believe it is the parents’ responsibility to visit the dentist.’ That may well be the case, but you also see that things are not going well in a number of families on many fronts. He often plays Ignorance is a role and it is not common in all cultures to go to the dentist as a precaution. Then I believe that providing this care to all children is a social responsibility.”

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