A Guide to a Healthy Mouth

The purpose of this article is to provide you, the health care practitioner and parent, information and a practical guide to approaching your child’s mouth with natural holistic ways to keep them healthy.

REGULAR CHECKUPS

There is nothing better for a child’s dental health then to bring them in to the dentist for regular checkups.  General wisdom says that they need to be brought in for cleanings and exams every 6 months.  X-rays should be taken every year. This is an excellent guideline.  Many holistic moms in our practice come in with the idea that x-rays should not be taken for fear of high radiation doses.  With digital hi-tech machines, the amount of radiation is extremely minimal and should not pose a problem.  There are no ways for a dentist’s eyes to look for cavities between the teeth. Baby teeth are very susceptible to decay and when they get decay, they decay FAST!  Within a matter of months, a small decay between the teeth can get into the nerve of the tooth.  If this happens, then either the tooth has to be pulled or a baby root canal has to be performed.  When you start pulling teeth, you start looking at a visit to the orthodontist.

HOLISTIC APPROACH TO BAD BREATH

Bad breath can be caused by several factors.  There is virtually nothing you can do about the smell coming from anyone’s mouth after a great pasta meal loaded with garlic.  Some people take longer to metabolize the garlic than others so that evening out with the kid’s at Mama Leoni’s Restaurant may last well into tomorrow.  But what if your kid wakes up with it or just smells throughout the day.  This may be due to digestive problems. If your child has bloating after a meal or burps, then consider digestive enzymes that you can purchase at a health food store.  Another reason may be more from the mouth itself.  If it comes on suddenly and your child complains of generalized pain throughout the mouth, it could be a virus.  Another reason for bad breath is a tooth or a gum infection.

There are many breath candies and gum available.  Stay away from ones with sugar, fructose, and sucrose as they promote tooth decay. One’s with Xylitol are fine.  Xylitol is a synthetic sugar that has been known to prevent tooth decay.

There are many natural pastes and rinses available at your health food stores. If you read the labels on these toothpastes and mouth rinses, it will say, “not recommended for ages 14 and under”.  What this really means is that there has been no research conducted on kids 14 and younger and the Federal Drug Administration does not approve it.  But actually, the pastes and rinses are fine. Sometimes they taste too “herbally” though.

HEALTHY FOOD HEALTHY MOUTH

A lot has been written and said about nutrition, enough to make you confused and dizzy. Everyone agrees that children should stay a way from sugar.  “Fruit drinks” often contain sugar masking as corn syrup.  Fructose is not far off either.  Then you have the foods and drinks that contain both.  This is double trouble.  Read the labels of these foods! A growing child needs a well balanced diet to grow and to maintain their systems as they are growing.  A low fat/low cholesterol diet robs the child of the essential nutrients to grow tall and strong, make the brain work and maintain health.  This is plain and simple.  Snacking is ok, but keep away from the junk food.  Even sticky fruits (such as fruit roll ups, raisins, etc.) stick to teeth and can cause tooth decay.  Please keep that in mind when you are feeding your child.  Oh, and no soda pop! The sugar content is high and the phosphoric acid will cause decay and dissolve your teeth!

There are many sugar substitutes on the market. Equal, Sweet and Low, and Splenda are the most popular brands.  These are not good substitutes.  Most of these break down to toxic materials in the body.  If you are going to use sugar, cane sugar is better.  A wonderful sugar substitute is called Stevia. Stevia is a natural herb and is found in health food stores.

WHAT TYPES OF FILLINGS SHOULD MY CHILD HAVE?

There are alternatives to those silver fillings!  I do not recommend them because they contain mercury.  Mercury is an element that is neurotoxic and leeches out of the fillings.  That means it can effect your nerves and your brain.  The alternatives for children (and for adults) are composite (tooth colored) fillings.  These are basically made of a plastic material.  They are safe and long lasting in most cases.  In teeth with very big decay, dentists have historically placed stainless steel caps over the tooth. Stainless steel contains nickel.  Nickel is a metal that can cause cancer.  Composite crowns may be a substitute.