It is D-Day – the day when I took Elfie to the dentist and the dentist said, yes, she has cavities, and yes, she will need fillings and will need to go under general anesthetic. Oh no!! My sweet little angel, so gorgeous and perfect, has decaying teeth…
The irony is that we specifically ensured she didn’t eat sugar. She had a few sweet things on occasion, like honey on her bread, and her little face came up in red blotches. We thought that if sugar isn’t a regular part of her diet, she won’t miss it. I have also been brushing her teeth, semi-consistently, for months now, thinking I was doing the right thing.
Since our last visit to the dentist, when the phrase “tooth decay” was first uttered, I poured through Wikipedia, and other equally credible websites to try to discover the cause of my baby’s plight, and especially to see if there was something I could do to reverse proceedings.
I came across studies that support the fact that tooth decay can reverse. The idea is the tooth is like an organ, in need of nourishment, and given the right ingredients, it can restore to health. Dr Weston Price’s name emerges repeatedly – he was a dentist that promoted the relationship between teeth, health and physical exercise. Dr. Edward Mellanby and his wife provided evidence that diets high in calcium and vitamin D and low in phytic acid, which prevents mineral absorption, had significant effect on tooth health and a reduced incidence of tooth decay. You can read more about their study at Whole Food Health blog.
One of the foods that is high in phytic acid is oat. When I ran through what we could have possibly done wrong for Elfie to need fillings at 20months, one of the things I realised was that for a few months we were giving her a bottle of oat milk before bed every night. I had got it into my head that dairy is a big no no, because of lactose intolerance and all that. So I substituted with oat, which Elfie liked just as well. I mentioned it to the dentist today, and she agreed that oat, rice and soya milks are not so great for little teeth, particularly after brushing at night. They are carbohydrates – sugars. The other thing I thought of was that Elfie had to have antibiotics recently for impetigo, and they lace it with syrup to make the medicine go down. The medicine went down a treat, but according to the dentist, a layer of syrup was coating the little girl’s teeth every night and joining union with mouth bacteria to form a lovely little tooth decay party.
Of course, those incidents were fairly minimal, so it is unlikely they were the be all and end all of Elfie’s tooth decay. My other theory is that her teeth came very very early. At 2months she had the first four, and she has had all her molars and incisors since about 8-9months. She now has her 3year-old molars. Her teeth are very very fine. Maybe that has contributed. Also, she didn’t teeth as such, so wasn’t a very bitey child. My theory is that the gnawing on hard objects to relieve tooth pain is also adaptive as it strengthens teeth. My third theory is that we didn’t start brushing until she was over a year old, and even then it was always a quick suck of the toothpaste from the toothbrush and be done. Only recently have I committed to making sure she properly brushes her teeth morning and night – after milky drink.
So, there you go. Every child is different, but this child obviously needed a little bit of special tooth attention. Maybe we could not have prevented her tooth decay. We will never know for sure. All I can do now is brush her teeth regularly, and encourage a diet high in calcium and vit D and low in phytic acid. This is easy – Elfie loves milk, cheese, yoghurt, fish, and veges. Yay.