Growing gorgeous, healthy teeth in kids should not be the mystery that it is today. There are so many positive choices and little daily changes we can all make, that will impact our kids dental health for their entire lifetime. Problem is, we are not aware, and the moment is lost.
While this article is both experiential and some may argue anecdotal, there is a lot of solid research along similar lines particularly that of Westin A. Price. This is a starting point! It is also the reality of what we have done in our younger daughter's life, after we began getting a clue about dental health - a clue that differed from standard wisdom! We have had two dentists in that time period, one back home in California and one in Tennessee, and they have both been pretty flexible about our "oddities" and we appreciate that greatly! Emily consistently gets practically perfect check ups, twice a year, and it appears she went from extremely buck teeth to an almost perfect smile, so what we are doing is working!
Why tackle this topic? It seems like every other week, there is another Facebook update from a friend, about the horrors they are going through at the dentist, with their kids. This procedure, this removal, cavity this, procedure that - families are spending a fortune on dental treatments for kids. Meanwhile, the kids are struggling through some very painful procedures. What would employing some healthier strategies do to minimize time, trauma and cost in preventative measures? Realizing that some folks genetically have thinner enamel, or problem teeth, yet some of it is simply lifestyle.
As a child, I was the cavity queen. By the ripe old age of 7, I had a cavity for each year of life. I remember one terrible summer, going to the world's meanest dentist, and having them all filled without numbing my mouth properly. I lived in horror of the dentist throughout childhood, but it turns out, I am almost impossible to numb and cycle through anesthesia very fast. As an adult, I can articulate it, as a child, it was traumatic and terrifying. Furthering my dental woes, I was a thumb sucker until mid-elementary school, succeeding in "ruining my mouth" and needed braces, which were not in the budget. At 18, my parents put braces on my teeth and I ended up as an adult, having to cash flow them while juggling college and bills. That left me wearing braces until I was 24, a total of 6 years, where it should have been 18 months to 2 years. My husband fared just slightly better, with lots of cavities and fillings in childhood, then dental fun as a young Marine. Suffice it to say, our kids did not hit the genetic lottery when it came to teeth!
Yet we changed our family tree, bit by bit, making little tweaks here and there. Wish we had known years ago, what we know now, yet all a parent can ever do is go with the information they have at the time. So please, read on, think through what is written, do your own research and consider what might be a starter step in changing your family's dental world.
Here are some great ideas from losing baby teeth, up through the teen years. Most of these ideas for improving dental health are virtually free, so why not consider trying a few.
Healthy Baby Teeth Habits
Teething varies with each and every baby. As a new mama, we like to look at all the baby books, consulting what month each thing should happen. We want our kids ahead of schedule, but sometimes they shock us, and are WAY ahead of schedule. Emily got her first tooth at 13 weeks. Yes, 13 weeks. By her first birthday, she had most of her baby teeth, and I continued to nurse her for the full first year. What an adventure that was....but I digress.
With that many teeth coming in, baby Emily was more than miserable at times. We found Hyland's Teething Tablets, a homeopathic formula that really seemed to ease the discomfort for her and helped her settle down. We checked with our doctor and followed their dosage recommendation, and it worked well. We also did the frozen rings, which helped some - just be sure they are BPA free and safe.
Breastfeeding is best for babies health and it is highly recommended for the healthiest kids later on. Realizing that not everyone can nurse their babies, for a variety of reasons, follow a few simple guidelines with bottles. Never, ever send baby to bed with a bottle. You wouldn't leave your teeth sitting in a bottle of formula, juice (horrors) or milk all night, why allow your baby's teeth? Gently brush teeth with a baby toothbrush. Be careful about saturating their teeth with a constant diet of juice in a bottle, which can decay enamel, especially citrus fruits. Whole fruit is so much healthier and includes everything God created for your child, fiber through juice. If you insist on juice, use a 1:4 ration of juice to water, or better yet 1:6 or higher.
Check with your pediatrician about supplementing with Vitamin D, for healthy teeth and immune system. Vitamin D can be given under the tongue, with drops.
Elementary Years ~ Habits Matter
Whether your child loses their baby teeth early, or get them in late, habits matter. As kids begin getting their permanent teeth, it isn't just tooth fairy time and isn't it cute, they are growing up. These are their PERMANENT teeth, the teeth that will take them throughout their lives, so it is critically important that they learn the habit of brushing and keeping their teeth and gums clean.
Not knowing better, our kids spent their early years on regular commercial toothpaste. Once upon a time, I was the Coupon Queen and bought all manner of kiddie toothpastes over the years. Yes, full of artificial dyes, flavorings, colors, additives, and scary sweeteners, loaded with fluoride. Wasn't that the "good mom" thing to do?
It turns out that fluoride may not be the healthy agent we have been read to believe. After researching it, fluoride is toxic to the human body, fluoride messes with the thyroid and endocrine system, it can cause neurological impairment and all sorts of horrible things. We immediately stopped all things fluoride. Having filtered our water for years, we were already removing it from our drinking supply. Next, we had to target our dental care and root toxic fluoride out there. That began with switching to an all natural toothpaste, when Emily was about 9 or 10. We also stopped getting the fluoride treatments at her twice yearly cleanings. Ugh. Can't undo all the fluoride treatment she had up until then, lke you, can only go forward with new information now. We stopped all "kiddie toothpaste" along with most of the dental visit fluoride treatments, sealants, etc and just use natural toothpaste. Emily's teeth are wonderful - one teeny tiny cavity at 13 (which incidentally, was when we briefly switched back to regular toothpaste for a short season)
While her teeth were sound, they were also very crooked, since she was a dedicated thumb sucker well into her early teens. We tried every bribery known to man, charts, calendars with rewards, special trips, hot sauce, threats, etc, to no avail. She had integrity, would go 21 days or a month without sucking her thumb, gather the reward, then start again. We finally decided that it was NOT the hill we were willing to die on, and we would just have to cash-flow major orthodontics at some point. We hoped she wouldn't marry still sucking her thumb!
She had a massive gap between her front teeth and her top teeth were pushed forward, which was almost impossible to capture in a photo. At one point, her front teeth almost stood straight forward! Frankly, we were a bit worried about what her teeth would look like, but kept falling back on some day, orthodontics. But NOT until she stopped with the thumbie. She finally stopped during her middle school years, so the damage was pretty pronounced! (and yes, she gave me permission to write this - sometimes parents just need to be HONEST and admit their struggles! This was a huge one for us!)
Such a pretty girl, but with such awkward teeth. Please understand, while they may look slightly crooked, and rather decent - yet if you look closely in these 2 photos, you will notice the huge GAP between her bite, courtesy of the entrenched habit of thumb sucking. She could not close her teeth properly - the upper teeth did not match or line up with the bottom teeth, where the thumb was. Major orthodontic treatment was needed.
So we had the habits of brushing down, using natural toothpaste and her teeth were very healthy. It was the habit of thumbsucking that literally ruined her bite.
The Teen Years ~ Healthier Habits ~ Wisdom
As dentist's like to do, we were waiting and watching on her wisdom teeth. He didn't think they would come down until she was about 18. Low and behold, her wisdom teeth came in early high school! At her twice yearly check ups, we kept watch and all was well.
The wisdom teeth actually improved her smile tremendously, lining up her teeth almost perfectly. She went from a gap to an almost perfect smile - so blessed. Her smile went from needing braces ASAP to absolutely dazzling, especially her top teeth! Slight, slight crowding on the bottom
Growing Gorgeous Teeth in Kids
Best advice we have for kids teeth, establish those habits early, teaching them how to care for their teeth young! Brush daily with a fluoride free toothpaste, and try to get them to floss. Your example is a great example for them. Get those dental check ups every 6 months. Avoid amalgam fillings, which contain mercury and get composites. Watch those wisdom teeth and allow the opportunity for them to give your child a stunning smile!
Those are all external, there are also nutritional things you can do to strengthen teeth through proper diet and nutrition. Westin A. Price was a dentist who studied the beautiful teeth of cultures eating a natural, unprocessed, primarily grain free diet. Dr. Price found that in native populations studied, they had "no malformed dental arches or tooth decay." Dr. Price was a Canadian-born dentist who lived on the cusp of life changing into the big-ag industrialized agricultural machine that feeds us today. He witnessed the rapid increase in dental problems around the turn of the century and found the modern Western diet to be the culprit. In the 1930's, an argument raged in medical circles as to whether hygiene or nutrition was the key to understanding and treating tooth decay. He connected the dots between diet and health, while studying native populations and dug further, realizing that HOW a people produces food impacts the food's nutritional quality and value. Whether the native group was higher carb or lower carb - they were eating what God provided (note - most of this stuff has an evolutionary read - they are not harping on what God provided - I am!) If the native culture exchewed refinded flour and sugar, canned and chemically preserved food, and the vegetable oils that were rapidly repaclacing real animal fats, they began the slide into modern degeneration, which meant chronic disease, tooth decay and malformed dental arches. Read "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" published in 1939 and check out his ideas and adopt them, and you will be surprised at how GORGEOUS and healthy your kids teeth can be, without as much intervention. Food that can be stored has the vitamins largely ripped out of it, it is dead and it leads to many of the problems Dr. Price noted in his careful research and observation. (a huge thanks to 'In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan, pages 89-101 summarized in this paragraph!)
Emily is convinced that a steady, lifetime diet of fresh fruits and vegetables are what gave her such strong teeth. She read at some point that eating tons of raw veggies strengthen teeth, and then our doctor confirmed it. Eating lots of veggies can make your jaw stronger and larger, potentially allowing room for healthy wisdom teeth to come in. This fixed the crooked bite to the left!
So add up the lifestyle, and see if the savings don't add up, and compare what we paid for our natural toothpaste to the cost of free or coupon toothpaste and conventional wisdom, along with expensive dentist and orthodontic bills. Pray about it, think it through and experiment. It can't hurt, and it might just help your kids have a lifetime of healthy, beautiful teeth, sans the pain of fillings and major dental work.
Emily uses about 4-6 tubes of toothpaste each year at about $4 per tube. Total price $16 to $24. We try to stock up when they are on sale.
Skipping fluoride treatments and sealants - savings for insurance, since we are not charged for them (but if you are cash pay, savings!)
Allowed her wisdom teeth to come in (they just descended in-between dental cleanings and came in perfectly on their own!)
Waaa laaa - look at that absolutely GORGEOUS smile today! Who would have thought her teeth would turn out so well? We never did! At almost 17, she has had one teeny, tiny cavity and that is it. Emily is reaping the rewards of a natural tooth care routine and a super healthy diet.