3 Days of Counting Cavities

by chelseajin

We spent Monday through Wednesday doing dental clinic. It consisted of driving out to southern Tucson schools (Summit View, Vail, and Three Points), varnishing preschooler’s teeth with fluoride, and giving very basic education on brushing everyday. I have no idea if that’s what tired me out for the rest of the week because I slept for the majority of today and I still feel like I’m jetlagged.

There’s a real art to dealing with kids. At this age, they’re not very resistant but there are a few who are terrified of the dentist (or maybe just white coats) and had to be held and comforted the entire time. That’s also an important note, always have the parent or the daycare adult hold a fussy child. It makes your life easier and I read somewhere that it’s just a bad idea in general for a doctor/nurse/ etc to try and restrain a kid. After all, you’re a stranger and you’ll need both hands to do whatever it is you’re there to do.

Going inside of one of the schools really brought me back to my elementary days–All the little desks and classroom animals.

Bets and I counted how many treated or untreated cavities there were, and if there were white spots, then we wiped saliva off the teeth (if we could) and brushed on the fluoride which solidifies on contact with water.

We sold the varnishing by saying they got to have bubblegum. Yeah, adults are all big fat liars. Interestingly, a few said the fluoride burned them, and I wonder if there was a correlation between those who had cavities and felt the unpleasant sensation. Since I only had 1 who said that, I couldn’t draw a conclusion.

Thank goodness we have baby teeth because some of these kids had a lot of cavities. It made me self-conscious about my own dental health, there are just nights when I just say “forget it” and I go to sleep.

Depending on the number of reapplications a child undergoes, the varnishing can be quite helpful, preventing from 50-75% of cavities in a 12 month period. Betty and Lorenia also mentioned similar numbers.


Fluoride Varnish Efficacy in Preventing Early Childhood Caries