An NPN reader asks our natural parenting mentors:
My ten-month-old started getting teeth early at four months. At eight months she was on antibiotics for an ear infection. Not too long after, we noticed one of her teeth was chipped and had some brown spotting. After talking to another mommy friend with similar, only more progressive issues with her one year old, I am going to start the following:
- Cod liver oil for her and perhaps me too
- MI paste
- Lower grains for her
- Continue to brush her teeth twice a day
She is up to six teeth, working on seven now. Are there any other measures to take? I hope to hold off taking her to the dentist until she is a year old, and I hope these measures will help reverse or at least stop decay. Any thoughts? She breastfeeds day and night and eats a decent amount of table food daily.
Here’s what our natural parenting mentors had to say:
Amy: You are a conscientious Momma. The fact that you are already taking action to ensure your daughter’s well-being will make a difference. There are many schools of thought on what will help prevent tooth decay. Some resources that may be helpful include Brian Palmer, DDS, and La Leche League.
When I was a Leader, we recommended wiping off the teeth after as many feedings as possible with a soft, clean cloth. Some parents also find putting some xylitol on the teeth after feedings helps prevent decay. Although I have not tried them, the company called Spiffies sells wipes and xylitol solution specifically for children to make tooth care more pleasant.
If you can find a gentle, non-invasive dentist to take your child to, it may be beneficial. The dentist could take a quick look and give some suggestions that you could put to use if you find them helpful. I can understand you wanting to wait until at least one year. Until then, you might play some dentist role-playing games at home where your baby can play with your teeth and vice versa, so the experience is not a big surprise. Some kids can feel a bit invaded when someone wants to see inside their mouth.
Overall, taking an active yet relaxed approach will help you and your baby get through this experience with the least amount of stress. Tooth decay is not fun, but it can be dealt with. I do encourage you to seek an alternative provider if you are advised to discontinue breastfeeding, if the dentist will not allow you to be in the room, if your child cannot sit on your lap during an exam or dental work, or if you just feel like it is not the right fit. There are dentists out there who will work with you if you are determined to find one.
Acacia: It is wonderful that you are focusing on healing your daughter’s tooth decay in a natural way! Just as the rest of our bodies can heal, so too can our teeth without major interference. Certainly there are situations where dentists are necessary, but there is a lot you can do before turning to the dentist. My husband and I were shocked to find out how much tooth decay my oldest son had when he went in for his first dentist appointment at the age of three. He had six cavities! We began treating them conventionally, one was filled and another capped. Needless to say, it was a horrible experience. We knew we had time before returning to fill the others, and since then have looked into alternatives and began treating them at home.
In order to stop the decay and prevent further decay, I have begun limiting our intake of grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes. As often as I can, (and it is a work in progress) I take specific precautions like soaking the grains with lemon juice or eating sourdoughs. Even though we did not drink much juice to begin with, I have nearly eliminated it because the simple sugars are such big cavity-producers, especially in weaker teeth. In order to help his teeth heal, he takes cod liver oil, and I recently learned to begin taking it with butter oil because it contains so many components necessary for re-mineralizing teeth. I would also take it, if I were you, since you are still breastfeeding. Calcium and phosphate also play a large role in re-mineralizing teeth. We have continued brushing twice a day and flossing, but have recently looked into homemade “toothpaste” because glycerin, which is an ingredient in most toothpastes, can interfere with re-mineralizing teeth.
My strongest advice is that you look into purchasing and reading the book, Cure Tooth Decay by Rami Nagel. He did extensive research in writing this book all because of his own daughter’s tooth decay. You can read some of his work in this online article, Heal and Prevent Early Childhood Caries Without Dental Surgery or Flouride. You can also read an article in this Mothering forum thread.
Chris: When I was growing up the story of a cavity went like this:
Bad little boys and girls who eat too many sweets and do not brush their teeth properly get cavities. When you get a cavity there was no hope for it to heal. It must be drilled out and filled at the dentist’s office.
However, that story just is not true. Just like any broken bone in your body, your teeth can mend themselves.
What you put into your body affects the health of your teeth and can bring about good health and healing. A good combination of herbs for dental healing is comfrey (traditionally used to heal wounds and bones), golden seal (a natural antibiotic), slippery elm (traditionally used to strengthen the body and draw out impurities) and aloe vera (contains natural detoxicants and removes dead matter from the body).
Additional supplementation for strength and healing in your teeth is through the use of liquid minerals, or drinking natural mineral water for a more straight-from-nature approach. Zinc, iodine, and magnesium are all vital to healthy bone structure. While on the subject of magnesium, the body’s intake of magnesium and calcium must be balanced in order for calcium to be properly assimilated into the bones (including your teeth).
Finally, eat whole grains. These have shown to help build strong bones and teeth. The toughness of whole grains helps clean the teeth, and processed grains have a way of sticking to your teeth causing all sorts of problems. Protein-rich diets are also good for your teeth, especially if the source of these proteins is grass-fed meat and dairy. This is the traditional, ages-old way of raising animals and obtaining dairy, and it certainly did our ancestors no harm!
The body has a way of healing itself from the inside out. The teeth are no exception, and the steps you have already taken are a step in the right direction. I hope you find these other tips useful.