Holistic Care of your Toddlers Teeth

Welcome to the April 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Personal Care
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories, tips, and struggles relating to their children's personal care choices.
Here is my little guy at the dentist
My oldest child was hospitalized to have caps on her teeth when she was three. I was devastated. I thought we ate well, I thought we had good hygiene. I didn't understand. I started the search for answers, but I ended up with more questions. I went to dentist after dentist only to be more confused and extremely frustrated. One dentist would blame it on extended breastfeeding, another on bacteria spread from sharing utensils with our daughter, another one claimed weak teeth enamel. I came to the conclusion they didn't REALLY know.
We learned that some foods which I thought were healthy were just bad choices for kids teeth. This includes sticky foods like raisins and gummy fruit snacks. Starchy foods like potato chips were the worst for sticking to the teeth. We learned a valuable habit that we still use to this day to "swish and swallow" after eating anything. This quick swish of water( or whatever the child is drinking) will dislodge any sticky pieces of food from the child's teeth. This habit is great for the times when you're eating on the run and can't get to a toothbrush. Just when I thought we made all the changes for healthy teeth I noticed my youngest had a tiny brown spot on his tooth that sends me back on that emotional roller coaster. I found an incredibly knowledgeable and supportive group of parents and professionals in the Very Young Kids Teeth and Alternative Kids Teeth Yahoo groups.  They are a safe place to ask questions and find some answers. One immediate change we made was to invest in an electric toothbrush. We decided to use the Oral B. We also started using Xylitol products 3-5 times a day. We used birch based Xylitol toothpaste and candies. Some Xylitol is made from corn and it's use is more controversial.
Ideally we brush our son's teeth after each meal and snack.  We especially make sure his teeth are clean before he nurses. While I do not believe breastfeeding causes cavities, I read a study that made a lot of sense to me. It basically showed that teeth that were clean and exposed to breastmilk were made stronger by the milk exposure. However, teeth that already had sugars on them and then were exposed to breastmilk were more likely to decay.
We experimented with a lot of kinds of toothpastes. I found it very frustrating that so many of the products marketed for children are full of harmful ingredients. We tried Squiggle, Toothpowder, and calcium based Toothpastes to help rebuild teeth. I haven't found one that I feel completely comfortable using. We're trying Christopher's Herbal Tooth and Gum powder. My oldest will use it, but my youngest is not a big fan.  I'm now experimenting with making my own toothpaste using Bentonite clay and xylitol.
Good nutrition is essential to a healthy toddler, including having healthy teeth. There is a lot more to it besides limiting your sugar intake. Teeth are made from minerals and can be built up from the inside out. Dr. Weston A. Price was a dentist that documented the benefits of a diet rich in good healthy fats made for strong, healthy teeth. Many people have found that following his diet filled with raw, organic milk, butter, cheese and fermented cod liver oil has been able to prevent and even heal cavities. Vitamin D is another imporant aspect to having healthy teeth and remineralizing decay in children and adults.Building up the body with probiotics and good bacteria helps build the immune system and makes for a healthy, happy mouth. We've even been able to add probiotics designed to add good bacteria to the mouth. These good bugs fight off the bad, cavity producing bacteria. Dr. Ramiel Nigel wrote a book Cure Tooth Decay based on a lot of Dr. Weston's ideas. I find his newsletters and book very informative.
We've added homeopathy to our daily routine to strengthen our toddler's teeth. I love using homeopathy with my toddler, because he loves his 'wittle pills'. He thinks they taste good and are fun to take from the cap. We currently use #1 Calcium Flouride 6x, #2 Calcium Phosphate, #12 Silicea and cell salts. The goal is three times a day. We've also tried two herbal remedies to rub directly on the spot of decay. We alternate between Plantain extract and White Oak.
It's been about a year since we noticed the small brown spot on Lil' Z's teeth. I'm happy to say we went to the dentist the other week and we had the dentist check the spot. They reported that the brown spot was hard, and not a concern. This brought me a lot of relief in that the spot hasn't grown and there is no need for intervention at this point. Whew!
I share with you all of the things we do with our children in an effort to keep their teeth as healthy as possible. This is an area I do not claim to be an expert. I'm still learning. I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for healthy toddler teeth.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon April 10 with all the carnival links.)
  • Holistic Care of your Toddler's Teeth — Erica at ChildOrganics tells a tale of her children's teeth issues and how she uses homeopathy and good nutrition to keep cavities at bay.
  • Bath Time Bliss : Fuss-Free Bath Time for Toddlers — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry shares how she has made bath time completely fuss free for both her and her toddler.
  • Homemade Natural ToothpasteCity Kids Homeschooling hosts a guest post on a homemade natural toothpaste recipe that kids will love!
  • Bathing Strike StrategiesCrunchy Con Mommy offers her best tips for keeping your little ones clean when they refuse to bathe.
  • Bodily Autonomy and Personal Hygeine — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses the importance of supporting a child's bodily autonomy in the prevention of abuse.
  • A Tub Full of Kiddos! — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment has kiddos who love the water, so bathtime is a favorite evening activity!
  • The Trials of Tidying My Toddler — Adrienne at Mommying My Way shares the difficulties she has with getting her on-the-go son to be still enough to get clean.
  • Wiped Clean — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen shares her recipe for homemade diaper wipe solution to clean those sweet little cloth diapered bottoms in her home!
  • Snug in a Towel: Embracing Personal Grooming — Personal care is time consuming,especially with more than one child; but the mama at Our Muddy Boots is learning to embrace this fleeting and needful time.
  • EC: All or Nothing? — Elimination Communication. Even the title sounds complicated and time consuming. It doesn't have to, if you adapt it to meet your family's needs, says Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy.
  • Routine Battles — In a guest post at Anktangle, Jorje of Momma Jorje outlines a simple incentive to help inspire your little one to follow a routine.
  • Redefining Beauty For My Daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger relays her struggle to define her own femininity and how her preschooler unexpectedly taught her a lesson in true beauty.
  • Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Three Girls In The Tub — Chrystal at Happy Mothering shares how she turns bath time into a few minutes of peace and quiet.
  • Montessori-Inspired Activities for Care of Self — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has a roundup of Montessori-inspired activities for care of self and ideas for home environments that encourage independence.
  • 10 Gentle Tips for Little Ones Who Hate the Bath — Kim at life-is-learning gives 10 tips to get your little one into the bath and maybe even enjoying it.
  • The Boy With The Long Hair — Liam at In The Now discusses his son's grooming choices.
  • Personal Care in a Montessori Home — Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings shares a summary of the ways she has organized her family's home to make for easy, Montessori-inspired toddler personal care.
  • Styling Kids — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is letting her kids decide what to look like.
  • Clean Kids: Laundry and Bath Tips — Kimberly at Homeschooling in Nova Scotia shares tips on how to get your children helping with laundry plus recipes for laundry and liquid soap.
  • How to Clean Your Children Naturally: A Tutorial — Erika at Cinco de Mommy shows you how to clean your children.
  • Cleaniliness is next to... dirt — The lapse-prone eco-mom (Kenna at Million Tiny Things) sometimes forgets to bathe the kids. Except in the mud pit.

27 comments:

  1. Wow, that's really impressive that you halted your son's tooth decay! Mikko has the worst teeth. :( We've been having problems similar to that of your oldest daughter, and it's so heartbreaking and bewildering. I've looked into Weston A. Price, but the big difficulty for us is getting a picky 4-year-old to eat that way! We were using a xylitol toothpaste but have switched to fluoride on the advice of our dentist, even though I know WAP and others are not fans. Maybe we needed more xylitol instead of less. I don't know — it's all so hard to tease out the "right" solution, isn't it? I'm glad you found one so far for your kids, though.

    Oh, I agree with you about breastfeeding — I think if there are already bacteria on the teeth, then the milk is one more source to feed off of, but drinking milk with clean teeth (such as at night, after brushing) wouldn't be a concern.

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  2. Such a great post! I am just starting the process of making our own natural toothpaste, and my blog's guest post today has a great recipe using the ingredients you are experimenting with. These carnivals are always so helpful and informative. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    -Kerry @ City Kids Homeschooling

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  3. Brushing stimulates the gums and cleans the teeth. People who wear braces should brush after each meal or snack. Brushing two times a day with toothpaste, specially after breakfast and before bed, helps to reduce teeth cavities.

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  4. One of my biggest fears is that my son will have cavities, we eat really well but I agree that sticky food such as dried fruit can be a problem. So far he only has 7 teeth, and we are getting into a good routine of brushing twice a day, but perhaps I need to move that up to after each meal? Im really impressed that you halted your sons decay, well done!

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  5. Where do you get your bentonite clay and xylitol from? And would you share more about the homeopathic remedies you are using? All very interesting and pertinent to me, since we've already had to cap 4 of Kieran's teeth due to "weak enamel."

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    1. I purchased the clay from frontier.com and the xylitol can be bought online at iherb, vitacost or something similar. I used the Emerald Forest Sugar Xylitol because it is birch based and GMO free. I also realized my local food co-op carries the clay in their bulk section with teas,etc. Pascalite clay is another option for teeth, you can pack them in the cavities or use them in toothpastes.
      The homeopathic remedies are from Hyland's, I think I also purchased those from iherb. I picked those remedies mostly because they were recommended on the yahoo groups I mentioned. They are cell salts. #1 is used to strengthen teeth, #2 is to rebuild bone and decay #12 is to help with assimilation of the nutrients from food. The combo cell salts are more for overall immune strength and rebuilding.

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    2. I gave you the wrong link. It's frontiercoop.com where I ordered the clay. :-)

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  6. We went through the same thing with my middle child right before her second birthday. The first dentist blamed it on night breastfeeding and sent me out of his office bawling. I went straight to my friends at the Breastfeeding Center at Lisa Ross Birth and Women's Center to get the facts. Then we found another dentist that said she had weak enamel and said her molars formed in the womb with such deep pits, that decay was inevitable. She even had some teeth come in with brown spots! I do, sort of believe, that - maybe - breastfeeding at night added to her problems that she was born prone to having. But it has not stopped me from doing the same with my third child. And at two and a half, she has perfect teeth.

    Regardless, we avoid many of the foods you mentioned and offer lots of Xylitol gum. I caved at Valentines and let her have a candy bracelet. The kind we all remember and love where you bite the candy off the bracelet. BIG mistake. She chipped a tooth so badly that it needed a cap. Our dentist said it was because her enamel is so week. All hard candy and lollypops are banned at our house now, even on special occasions. We use Tom's kids strawberry toothpaste with no Fluoride, and floss daily. I'm sure there are better toothpaste options we could be using. But I've been afraid to go to far off the beaten path on that one.

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I have wanted to do it myself. You have some wonderful insight on the issue. I’m sure it will help so many people!

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  7. Interesting. . . Abbey's always been great about letting me brush her teeth and brushing them herself as well! I haven't yet taken her to the dentist (I guess I really should!) . . . but these tips have me prepared if I ever do need them!

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  8. Very interesting. My bro-in-law is hoping to go to dental school and I keep trying to gently encourage him towards more holistic dentistry, but I can tell he thinks it's all a crock so far. I'll have to share those links with him!

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  9. That's great that you have been able to halt the damage to your children's teeth! My own teeth are pitted -- came in that way, probably because of my mom's diet. My little brother's teeth came in half-formed -- as if they had cavities already, even without being exposed to anything -- and they are very weak. I really believe diet is the key to building stronger teeth. Teeth are kind of like the canary in the mine -- they easily show us that our bodies are not well. If teeth are decaying, there's likely to be trouble with our bones as well.

    I don't believe breastfeeding can be the cause. After all, traditional cultures all nurse to much higher ages than we do, night and day, and don't brush teeth (some chew on a stick), and have zero tooth decay. It's got to be their diet.

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    1. This is a really interesting point. For the past few years my parents use a solo tooth brush and no toothpaste (which is very abrasive for sensitive teeth) and they always get a great bill of health from the densist. I think Western diets have loads of hidden sugars and additives in foods which contribute drastically to this problem. My teeth fall short of perfection (by a country mile) and so I've started using a solo brush and no paste most of the time.

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  10. Congratulations on halting the decay! I am also on the very young kids teeth yahoo board and have found it very helpful. With all the posts about cell salts, you'd think I would have got some by now (I started on the board when my son was 20 months old; he's now 3 and 7 months!), but no. I finally am on Amazon now and buying some. I couldn't find them all on iherb? Perhaps I used the wrong search terms. What is the combo cell salt you mention? And you just empty the capsule in your child's mouth? Have you tried them for yourself?

    Thank you for sharing all your info and research!

    --Christen

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  11. The combination of the cell salts is called Bioplasma. I tap 2-3 tablets into the lid of the remedy. Then have my 3yo open his mouth. I tap them from the lid into his mouth. They dissolve really quickly. I have tasted them, they aren't bad at all. They really don't have much of a flavor.

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  12. When I was a kid, a dentist asked me if I ate a lots of bakery food - I was so offended because I ate a lot of healthy friut & not much of sweets or snacks. You have done an excellent job of extensively researching the tooth decay problem. Plantain extract, wow. That plant grows everywhere and can be added to salads - I'll be making a plantain enriched salad this evening!

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  13. thanks for a great post. I have been meaning to write something similar, but haven't gotten to it just yet. will be shaing in Sunday Surf

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  14. I am using natural toothpaste, both for myself and my family including the kids. I think it's more effective than a regular toothpaste. I also have stocks of chewing gums containing xylitol. I admire your skills towards holistic care. Anyway, I look forward to learning more new things from you and your blog.

    Ronald Receveur Scams

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  15. Anonymous4:48 PM

    My 17 month old son was just seen a couple days ago at the dentist office, and the dentist said he has soft teeth, abnormally soft teeth. He has a lot of chips, with learning how to walk every time he falls he chips a tooth. He also has discoloration on a few of his teeth and the dentist said because how weak his teeth are that decay is unstoppable no matter what we do... The dentist wants to put him under local anesthesia at the hospital and put six crowns on his teeth and clear protectant on his bottom teeth. The four front caps will be white, but two in the back will be metal..
    It's all so scary and I just don't know what the true right thing to do for my son is. I can't even go back to the room with him, because its at a hospital. They want to give him this drug that makes him drowsy and so when he wakes up he won't remember anything but they have to take him from me before they give him the sleep medicine, I can't even go back to the room with him. It truly has me in tears at even the thought of handing my baby over to medical staff at a hospital to be put under sedation and I can't even be there till he falls asleep, or with him even when he is waking up. Its tearing me up because I don't know what to do.
    Is the capping truly necessary? Can I really not do anything now to make his teeth better and avoid having him put to sleep and drugs put in him? All they did was look at his teeth, maybe a minute, no xrays, no touching it with the tool they normally use to clean teeth.
    His insurance won't cover a second opinion, it will be $100 to pay for a second opinion, worth it to me if it will be a different answer! I can't find a holistic dentist that will see a child so young.
    I just don't know what to do... Has anyone experiences a dentist telling them one thing and then deciding not to do that and it turned out fine? Or having to put your baby under at 17 months old to have teeth capped? Did they wake up the same? Does the brain still function the same after that? Then there is the fluoride... So much controversy on all these subjects. Even the "experts" don't agree.
    I'm just lost... And have to make a choice for my baby... And I want it to be the best for his over all health and well being.

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    1. Please join the yahoo group that the author memtions. I am a member and you can get great advice. I so not think it is necessary for your child to undergo surgery just yet. I think you can make changes And help harden his teeth.

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  16. Great job reversing your son's decay! I try to tell as many people as I can about how teeth can in fact remineralize and that was even before I saw evidence of it in my daughter's case! We used fermented cod liver oil/butter oil from Green Pasture and although we did a little bit of the Weston Price diet (bone broths and raw cheese), adding the CLO was really the turning point in my daughter's dental health. The key is (as you did) to catch it early. For those of you who think your child won't stomach CLO, try mixing in apple sauce or at the very minimum, supplement with Vit D drops. Good luck to all of you and hang in there!

    http://naturallysta.blogspot.com/2012/11/update-reversing-zs-cavities.html

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  17. It is such a relief to read this, thank you! I was just informed that my two year old has weak enamel. He wanted me to rub the tooth with a flouride rinse twice a day, which I refuse to do. Thank you for all of the natural alternatives!

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  18. Where do I get these?#1 Calcium Flouride 6x, #2 Calcium Phosphate, #12 Silicea and cell salts.

    Thanks in advance!

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. You should be able to find them at your local health food store, or you can buy them from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=hylands%20cell%20salts&sprefix=hylands+ce%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahylands%20cell%20salts

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  21. Hi! I recently bought the homeopathy pellets and there is no dosage for 2 years or younger. My son is 18 months old... is it safe to give to him? If so, how many pellets should I give? Thank you!

    Fatima

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  22. I'm afraid I can't be of much help in that area, you may need to contact the company or a homeopathic dr. in your area for some more information. Commonly the dosage is 1-2 pellets for that age range,but of course it depends on the remedy. Sorry I can't be of more help!

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