NOTE: We are not a dental office. However, in caring for our pediatric population, we get a lot of questions regarding dental care. We’ve had many conversations with parents regarding their children’s teeth, and want to share some of that information with you.
How early should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
As soon as your child gets teeth, you should start wiping them off twice a day. Many babies breastfeed around the clock, which bathes their teeth in sugary milk day and night. Some dentists recommend to stop breastfeeding at night to prevent dental cavities, but as long as you wash or wipe the teeth off with water or brush them before and after bed, weaning prematurely can be avoided.
How important is flossing?
For children’s teeth to be cleaned properly from an early age, they have to have space to clean between them. Dentists agree that flossing between teeth is necessary, as a lot of the bacteria that breaks teeth down gets between teeth and along the gum line. Sometimes a tongue tie can cause unnecessary crowding in the mouth, which doesn’t allow enough space to clean between teeth. Revising a tongue tie early on can allow the jaw to grow to a normal space so the teeth have room to come in.
Why is my child’s enamel wearing off? What causes tooth decay?
Sometimes a lack of nutrients keeps a child’s enamel from getting strong. Vitamin A and D are very important to enamel strength. These can be sourced from cod liver oil, which is also good for the immune system and brain development. We recommend Rosita, Green Pasture, or Nordic Naturals cod liver oil supplements.
The Western diet is high in phytos, which are found in corn, wheat, and other processed foods. Phytos are known to break down teeth, so a diet low in phytos and heavier in animal fat is preferred. When you do intake phytos, isolate them to one part of the day and brush your teeth after. This isn’t as good as not eating phytos at all, but if you’re going to, this is a good option. Follow the same protocol when consuming sugar if possible.
Bacteria that causes tooth decay is often transmitted from parents to their children. While genetics may be part of it, giving your child food that has been in your mouth can transfer bacteria (i.e. you chewed it up some first, they eat off your spoon/fork, etc.). Good dental health for children includes good dental health for parents. When parents have a healthy mouth, their children are more likely to have a healthy mouth. Practice good hygiene and don’t transfer foods from parent to child to help prevent tooth decay from bacteria.
So toothpaste, what do you recommend?
Being aware of what you’re putting on your child’s teeth is important. Some toothpastes have harsh chemicals in them. There is an age old debate about whether fluoride is necessary in toothpaste or not. Fluoride was first introduced to water during the manufacturing of the atomic bomb, of which fluoride was a byproduct. At the time, it couldn’t be proved that fluoride was harmful, so it was promoted as not harmful to protect the bomb industry from liability (Griffiths and Bryson, 1997).
A good remineralization toothpaste consists of pulverized organic egg shells combined with coconut oil and baking soda (see below).
Do you have any thoughts on dental care for children with MTHFR?
Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which is regularly used during cavity fillings in children, can raise homocysteine (toxin) levels for up to 3 months after the procedure. Children with MTHFR have a more difficult time removing toxins from their body (see our blog on MTFHR for details). If a procedure requiring nitrous oxide is absolutely necessary, make sure your child is taking a good B12 (methylcobalamin) and folate, or a good glutathione, before and after the procedure. A high-dose vitamin C supplement and epsom salt baths also help to support body detox (this step is good whether the child has MTHFR or not).
Some dentists allow children to not use nitrous oxide during fillings, but this will likely require establishing a good rapport with the dentist and the parent being present to talk the child through it. Nitrous oxide is not always necessary in every procedure, and if the child doesn’t need the help, it’s better not to use it.
There is a type of dentistry that doesn’t require drilling, but rather hand tools. It takes a lot longer, but it is less likely to hit a nerve and so pain is minimal. Finding a dentist who will do this technique is another option. There are also techniques such air abrasion or antimicrobial liquids that can be brushed on cavities to stop tooth decay. Talk to your dentist about these options.
For a small dental cavity in a baby tooth, it can sometimes be reversed by putting remineralization toothpaste on it before bed. One paste some of our patients have used is called MI paste. This can keep it from getting worse so you can wait for it to fall out rather than getting it filled. Sometimes filling teeth requires more damage to be done to the tooth before it can be filled. This can make teeth more fragile, and removes the possibility of remineralization. In addition, the filling may fall out, and subsequent work might have to be done to repair the tooth. It’s usually better to work hard to remineralize teeth than fill them whenever possible.
All of these are potential options for any child with dental caries (tooth decay and/or cavities), and especially in the case of MTHFR.
Are there any dentists you recommend?
Dr. Thomas Lokensgard at the Centre for Holistic and Biological Dentistry is the most integrative dentist in the Nashville area. There is a waiting list to see him. Zoo Crew Pediatric Dentistry is convenient, friendly, and allows parents to be present. Though more mainstream in its approach (in terms of getting x-rays and performing procedures, etc.), they are less aggressive than many offices with wanting to fill teeth. Always feel the freedom to ask questions before agreeing to any dental work.
Best of luck as you care for your family’s oral health.
Jaimee´ Arroyo, FNP
¼ cup ground eggshells or calcium magnesium tablets
2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp baking soda
Optional: 1 tsp castile soap, 1 tsp sea salt, and/or a few drops of peppermint essential oil
Rinse eggshells and boil them for a few minutes. This will help get rid of any pathogens. Let air dry. Grind into a fine powder. Combine ingredients in a bowl, adding coconut oil until it reaches a smooth consistency. Store in a container/jar.