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.”
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. 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.
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.