Healing Kids’ Teeth Naturally
“How can I heal my child’s teeth naturally?” is a question we often hear at Origin Dental Wellness. Although we appreciate the sentiment behind the question, as healthcare providers, we often cringe a little when we hear the question. Mainly because we know we are about to have a difficult conversation that is going to disappoint Mom and Dad.
Why would a tooth need healing in the first place? Cavities are a disease of the destruction of the tooth structure. The destruction begins with an acidic environment created by a poor diet involving too much exposure to sugars. Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in the mouth. The bacteria then release toxins that break down the tooth enamel. It doesn’t really matter what the source of the sugar is. Bacteria don’t care if it comes from a lollipop or milk allowed to sit on the teeth overnight due to breastfeeding, or juice from a sippy cup. As far as bacteria are concerned, sugar is sugar. And yummy!
We like to explain to parents that teeth have an outer shell of protection, much like a plate of armor. This armor is called enamel and is the hardest material in the human body. Adult teeth have about 2 millimeters of protective enamel. When the enamel begins to break down on an adult tooth, it can take years before it breaks through into the softer inner layer of the tooth called dentin. Once the cavity has reached the dentin, restoration needs to take place. And this is where dentistry steps in. However, on a baby’s tooth, there are only about 0.5 millimeters of protective enamel. So, a cavity can break through a baby tooth’s armor four times faster than an adult tooth. The inner layer of dentin on a baby tooth is incredibly soft, allowing decay to move quickly, often invading the nerve of the tooth at about the same time that Mom or Dad notices the tooth has a hole. By this time, only dentistry can remove the decay and restore the tooth.
Once the breakdown process has begun, it is very unlikely to stop unless intervention occurs VERY early, and that intervention needs to include ozone. This is why it is so important that children see a dentist regularly at an early age, at least until the age of 2. If the breakdown of enamel has begun on an accessible surface but is not into the softer layer of dentin, ozone can be effective at halting the decay. Especially if the diet is addressed and additional sugars are removed. But unfortunately, if the breakdown has invaded the dentin layer, and Mom or Dad can actually see the hole in the tooth, not even ozone can halt the decay.
We often wish we had a magic wand to remove decay on baby teeth, making it easier for children and their parents. But it just simply doesn’t exist. The good news I always try to express to parents is that God gives us two chances with teeth. Whenever decay is present in the baby’s teeth, let’s use that as an opportunity to make positive changes for the permanent teeth to have a healthy life with no dentistry!