A few weeks ago I read an article about children being put under to have tooth work done and I was blown away. And when I say children, I mean kids as young as 2 years old! The article stated that dentists are saying they are seeing 6-10 cavities at a time, so they are having to use general anesthesia to perform the extensive dental work.
E was put under 2 years ago when she had her tonsils removed and her lymph nodes extracted (for further testing) to treat her PFAPA. The first time she was put under was for scans to figure out what was going on with her. The second time was for the surgery and she didn’t want to wake up. After being in the ICU for several hours, she finally woke up vomiting and had to stay the night for observation. It was super scary! There are numerous complications that can arise while a child is under anesthesia. Being put under for dental work seems dangerous to me.
I know there are exceptions, and I completely understand if it is medically necessary to be put under. But I have to wonder why are children as young as 2 getting so many cavities? Evidence is pointing to sugary drinks (juice, soda, flavored water), sugary snacks, and candy. High amounts of sugar are turning up in every fruit snack or snack food geared towards toddlers. Even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can have up to 20+ grams of sugar. So if you look at the amount of sugar in each meal, paired with juice drinks and desserts or candy treats- it’s no wonder so many children are having teeth issues. It is also said by most dentists that children under 10 years old do not properly brush.
So what are parents supposed to do?
- Only serve your children water or milk for starters. I will give E OJ when she is getting sick, but other than that, we skip store bought juice. If your child refuses water, add 2 tbs of juice to flavor it until they get used to it. Skip all soda’s (even diet) since they are highly acidic.
- Skip candy. It’s ok to have treats every once in a while, but skip the super sugary ones. We get 100% organic juice suckers instead of the dyed syrupy junk. Also, offer fruits as treats instead of imitation fruits. We also make ice pops out of fruit and yogurt and my kiddo can’t taste the difference!
- Read labels before purchasing snacks/meals so you know how much sugar is in each food. Try to limit each meal to 5-10 grams of sugar. 10 grams is on the high end… You can also put sticky notes on the packages for quick looks so you can add the grams quickly when preparing/packing a meal.
- Have your child brush their teeth after each meal, especially after eating sugary or acid foods. Don’t EVER skip brushes!! E has sensory processing disorder and didn’t like her teeth brushed at first. But we talked about cavities and what would happen if we didn’t brush well. It’s ok to instill fear into your child so they want to care for their teeth! 😉 But also make brushing fun! (you can also add stickers to a chart for every time they brush their teeth on their own and they get a special treat for getting X stickers a week/month)
- Let your child brush then go back and give the final brush. I let E brush her teeth, but I then do the last brush to make sure everything is off. If I’m not around, she knows to do the scrape test. The scrape test is to rub/scratch your clean fingernail on your teeth to see if you can scrape anything off.
- Let your child pick their own tooth brush. We love Preserve toothbrushes and all of the fun colors they come in. They are made out of recycled #5 plastic and are BPA free. Be sure to check what kind of plastic you brush is made out of. E decided she wanted a large toothbrush like ours, so I let her pick it out and made sure we went with a soft brush.
- Use safe toothpastes not loaded with dyes, parabens, fluoride, and unknown flavors. We have alternated between Weleda Children’s Gel and Branam All Natural Tooth Gel. I’m curious to see more research done on toxic chemicals in toothpaste and if they cause tooth decay or decalcification!
*This is a special post for Healthy Child Healthy World.