Limited dental health care

Dr Lynne Steenkamp-Collison, left, and her assistant, Brulene Joseph, at Ithemba Preprimary School in Capricorn.

False Bay Hospital dental department’s community-service projects, including primary school screenings, are on hold because of Covid-19, says Dr Lynne Steenkamp-Collison, the hospital’s dentist.

However, before the pandemic hit, the department screened Grade 1s at St James, Kleinberg, Marine and Ukhanyo primary schools, as well special-needs pupils in Ocean View and children from Ithemba Pre-primary School in Capricorn.

During the screenings, the children are checked for cavities, they get toothbrushes and they’re told about good oral health care.

The hospital does fissure sealants to prevent cavities and on Mandela Day, July 18, it does free extractions of milk teeth with cavities for children aged 3 to 6.

Currently, the hospital is only doing extractions. All surgical procedures, fillings and paediatric procedures are on hold.

Dr Steenkamp-Collison said the hospital saw about 20 to 25 emergencies a week during lockdown.

Last month, the hospital helped at the Dignity Day for the homeless run by The Net in aid of International Homeless Day on October 10.

Dr Steenkamp-Collison and her assistant, Brulene Joseph, handed out toothbrushes, did general examinations and extractions and educated the homeless about good oral health.

Ukhanyo Primary School principal Michael Tyhali said many of the pupils lived below the poverty line and did not have access to dental care, so the school was very grateful for the dental department’s support.

Department of Health spokeswoman, Monique Johnstone, said Covid-19 had caused delays for many families needing dental care at provincial health facilities.

Currently dental health care was limited to emergency and urgent dental problems from severe dental pain, injury to the mouth, complications from previous dental treatment or swelling of dental or facial areas, she said.