‘Often decides for themselves whether they brush at home’

The dentists at Youth Dental Care Amsterdam report more cavities in the teeth, more inflamed gums and more wear and tear on the teeth of Amsterdam children. Prevention may have come to mind in the corona period, such as brushing twice a day.

Malika Sevil

It’s still too early for hard numbers, but the signals that mobile dentists Angelica Setiaman and Lilian Brands receive from the dental chair do not bode well. What really stands out, according to Setiaman, is the large number of children with tooth erosion.

Initiators for dental erosion include soft drinks and cartons of juice. “And then it also matters how you drink it,” Setiaman says. “For your teeth, you better pour that glass of cola at once, hop, backwards. Because then you have one sour moment in your mouth. The saliva neutralizes it again. ”

In gaming, according to Setiaman, the exact opposite happens. “The play makes the child hurry, so they take small sips each time, which keeps the acidity level in the mouth low for a relatively long time, sometimes for hours. Playing is stressful, so the kids will laugh a little too. It’s doubly bad: the sour moment and the crunch. The tooth enamel becomes so soft and wears off faster. ”

This is bad news, because tooth enamel never grows back. “We then see flattened nodules on the cheek teeth, pits and exposed dentin, which makes the teeth look shorter and yellower. And we already see that in primary school students. ”


Setiaman and Brands are two of the 29 dentists from Youth Dental Care Amsterdam (JTVA), who each year see 26,000 children in 150 primary schools and in four regular practices and treat them where necessary. It is a kind of traveling circus where dental practice is arranged at a school for a few weeks at a time.

Any student is welcome as long as his or her parents have given permission. As with a ‘regular’ dentist, the cost of dental care for children up to eighteen years is reimbursed from the basic insurance.

So the 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 health sector, 29 percent of Amsterdam children did not go to the dentist by 2020, which equates to about 30,000 children. It’s more than a year earlier where a quarter did not go. The national average of children who neglected the dentist in 2020 is 23 percent.

Disturbed rhythm

The fact that fewer children have been to the dentist in the past two years is partly a result of the corona measures. For example, the dentist was closed during the first lockdown. Still, Brands has the strong impression that the dental visit is not the only thing that has come on the scene.

“I have the impression that the rhythm of many households has been disrupted,” Brands says. “I can also hear it in the conversations we have with the children: They take more control – with snitch, gaming and going to bed. They no longer do that when their mother says it’s bedtime. If the parents themselves are already under the wool, there is no one left who can check whether they are cleaning properly. It takes a while before you see the consequences of this in your mouth. These show up in inflamed gums, multiple cavities and also tooth erosion. More often than not, I think, ‘John, this kid was always okay, and now he has holes.’ ”

Dentists also see many overweight children. This confirms the long-standing fear that children have started snacking more during lockdowns, when in fact they had less opportunity to exercise. The dentist therefore also has a signaling function in that area, says Brands. “We see these children every six months, and therefore we sometimes feel that help is needed before the general practitioner or the parent and child teams. In such a case, we refer such a child to the right place. ”

No wonder

Brands understands that it was a very difficult time for parents to combine their work, care and education for the children. In that sense, she is not surprised by the development. “I talked to a teacher who was cycling around the kids in her class to deliver some things. She said children opened the door with a lollipop in their mouth. If they often eat lollipops, it is of course catastrophic for the teeth. ”

JTVA dentists want to keep oral care for children intrusive. For now and until later, because healthy teeth are important for your overall health. Gingivitis, for example, leads to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

This is one of the reasons why they encourage schools to make room for a care function so that the mobile team in the school can set up a temporary practice. Brands: “In new construction for schools, the number of square meters per child is actually declining. For accessibility, it is very important that we can work in the school building. ”


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

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