Why do our kids have tooth decay?

By Alvin Danenberg, DDS, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

December 12, 2018 -- Our kids have tooth decay not because they're deficient in fluoride.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS
Alvin Danenberg, DDS.

Our kids have bleeding gums not because they don't brush and floss twice a day.

The primary reasons our kids have tooth decay and gum disease are because their nutrition is deficient, their drinks are acidic and sugary, their healthy gut bacteria are compromised, and their lifestyles are sedentary.

These deficiencies also manifest in childhood as obesity, high blood pressure, depression, skin eruptions, allergies, and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition and lifestyles early in life sow the seeds for many of the degenerative diseases that plague us later in life.

4 behaviors

When it comes to avoiding tooth decay and taking care of oral health, brushing and flossing are important, but four other behaviors are just as important.

I tell my patients that having healthy bacteria in the gut promotes healthy bacteria in their saliva, which allows for normal function in the mouth. This also assists in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

“I also tell them that a healthy body improves gut health and metabolism.”

I remind my patients and their parents to avoid refined carbohydrates. Avoiding these can help prevent the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria and help maintain a healthy acid level in the mouth.

One way to provide the necessary arsenal for saliva to remineralize teeth is to make sure essential nutrients and trace minerals are included in their diets.

I also tell them that a healthy body improves gut health and metabolism. I encourage an active lifestyle of playing outside, rather than sitting in front of a TV or playing video games.

Way of eating

I pull the parents of younger patients aside and remind them that their kids will eat the way Mom and Dad eat. Kids learn by example. Healthy snacks could include fresh fruit and nuts, almond butter spread on celery sticks, slices of raw cheeses, and cut up pieces of colorful sweet peppers. Healthy drinks could include filtered water, unsweetened seltzers, teas without sugar, and kombucha.

My thought is that if they are eating a healthy diet at home, and if they are given healthy meals and snacks for lunches at school, then whatever minimal cheating they do is not so bad.

Dental visits should be pleasant. Children shouldn't have to be concerned about tooth decay or gum disease if they are getting the nutrients their bodies need to thrive. Kids should clean their mouths appropriately but they must eat nutritiously. Their mouths will thank them and their overall health will thank them.

Alvin Danenberg, DDS, practices at the Bluffton Center for Dentistry in Bluffton, SC. He is also on the faculty of the College of Integrative Medicine and created its integrative periodontal teaching module. He also spent two years as chief of periodontics at Charleston Air Force Base earlier in his career. His website is drdanenberg.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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