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Resource Review Thursday: Dentists, Tooth Decay and Flouride for Kids

Dentists' Chair

This week I took Claire and Beatrice to the dentist for a routine checkup.  We brush teeth regularly, make a point to get to the dentist twice a year, and have never had any problems with decay in Bea’s teeth. We scheduled an appointment at edentalperth.net.au. I was horrified when my dentist prised open Claire’s mouth and mentioned, “Oh, I see some decay there.  I’ll just get something to put on it.”

WHAT??

The backstory for this particular tooth is kind of interesting.  It’s one of her first four molars, but the other three in the set all came through together back in July and this poor straggler took ages to finally break through.  Before it did it got very swollen and sore, and it seemed almost like the swelling was preventing the tooth from actually cutting through.  The dentist said that what might have happened was that the tooth broke through the gum enough to let some food or milk sugars underneath, and then the brushing couldn’t clear it away because the sugar was caught beneath the swollen gum.  Ick.

I never would have thought that my toddler would have early tooth decay.  We were being so careful about brushing!  This week’s resource review is a list of dental health related resources. Civin DDS explains the origin of dentists.  I hope someone else can learn something useful from my unfortunate situation.

Dental Hygiene Resources for Babies, Toddlers and Kids

Gentle Parenting Ideas: Toddlers and Brushing Teeth by Dionna at Code Name: Mama.  Lots of great ideas here for encouraging reluctant or willful toddlers to allow their teeth to be brushed.  Songs!  Games!  Let them do your teeth!  Make it fun and everyone will have a better time.

Dental Health for Children from my archives here at The Parent Vortex.  Information on pacifiers, thumb sucking, when to make the first visit to the dentist and more.

Dr. Sears: Caring for Little Teeth from Ask Dr. Sears.com.  More attachment-friendly ideas to encourage toddlers to brush teeth, including modeling brushing and flossing your own teeth.

Flouride and Water at KidsHealth.org Fairly mainstream information about flouride and it’s sources in drinking water, both as a naturally occurring mineral and as a supplement in urban drinking water supplies.  Our water in Vancouver is unflouridated, and we’d also been using unflouridated toothpaste (as recommended for children under two, since they’re unable to really spit it out and can take in too much flouride that way).  In my dentist’s opinion, flouride toothpaste may have helped Claire’s teeth avoid decay in this admittedly unusual situation, especially with the absence of flouride in our drinking water.

Flouride Health Effects at Flouride Action Network.  The other side of the story about Flouride.  Ingesting too much flouride can carry many health risks, especially for babies who are bottle fed formula that has been mixed up with flouridated water.

Debunking Flouride: Cavity Fighter or Toxic Intruder at Mothering.com.  More discussion on the pros and cons of flouride, including the many, many sources of flouride we are exposed to every day.

In the end, I think that much of our dental health and the number of cavities each person has over their lifetime comes down to diligence in brushing and flossing and whether you were blessed with genes for strong teeth or weaker ones.  Whether or not you choose to use flouride, the most important thing to do to keep kids’ teeth healthy is get in there with the brush twice a day and clean those sugar bugs off!

What has your experience been like taking care of toddler teeth?  Dental horror stories?  Great brushing tricks? I’d love to hear them.

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Kirsten October 7, 2010, 9:01 am

    I just recently had some pretty epic dental experiences, and one of the things the dentist said to me, which I had read before, is that since I definitely was a “carrier” of the bacteria that causes tooth decay, I should be extremely careful to never let any of my saliva near my toddler’s mouth. This included no kissing on the mouth, and not even blowing on her food to cool it. And, of course, no sharing spoons or drinking from the same glass. But how can I resist kissing that sweet little mouth?

    • michelle October 7, 2010, 9:16 am

      I have heard this too, and also that your mouth can be colonized by good bacteria that help protect your teeth from decay as well as the bad ones that cause it. I am terrible for sharing spoons, etc. though. It is so hard to remember, and I do not always have that extra spoon with me.

  • Erica @ ChildOrganics October 7, 2010, 7:43 pm

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart. We really struggled with my dd with her teeth as a toddler, despite brushing, limiting sweets and all that stuff, she still had early childhood caries. Finally her baby teeth are gone and I’m happy to report she has beautiful healthy adult teeth, cavity free!
    Now it looks like my ds is going to have issues. I see the bright white stripes forming on his top 4 teeth. We’re brushing diligently, offering xylitol exposures everyday, watching his diet and trying to remineralize his teeth. IT’s a constant battle. As for the kisses and sharing spoons, etc..it’s nearly impossible! It’s been very frustrating.
    There have been 2 yahoo groups that have been a great resource: alternativekidsteeth and veryyoungkidsteeth. There are a lot of discussions on breastfeeding and it’s relationship to cavities (unfortunately many dentists blame breastfeeding). Also a lot of discussions on diet and it’s relationship to healthy teeth.
    Thanks for the helpful links!

    • michelle October 7, 2010, 8:18 pm

      Thanks for pointing me to those two yahoo groups, Erica. I haven’t done as much reading on dental health as I have about things like gentle discipline or homeschooling, but I’m sure there is lots to learn about maintaining good dental health too. I find it interesting that one kid can have great teeth and the other early cavities – pretty much the same diet, etc. I have breastfed Claire longer than I did Bea, and I wonder sometimes if that might have something to do with it. But I’m pretty sure starting night weaning now would mean a whole lot of crying. :( Time for more research, I think.

  • Michelle S October 9, 2010, 5:22 pm

    Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel is another perspective on the whole thing. My kids have not had any decay but I’ve researched it. We do not do fluoride and aren’t that great about brushing. 3 y/o still night nurses sometimes. We eat a whole foods diet, which I think is the most important part. I think early decay may be due more to prenatal factors.

    • michelle October 9, 2010, 9:21 pm

      Thanks for the book recommendation, I’ll check it out! So many things are determined during pregnancy and I wouldn’t be surprised if dental heath and the strength of one’s enamel is one of them.

  • Emily June 6, 2011, 10:27 pm

    Thanks for the really helpful links. I’ve been on a search for good dental info since my 3 year old injured his teeth and had to have one of them extracted. I’ve also found good info and creative tips on this Mom’s Guide, if you want to check that one out, too.

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