- November 2, 2014
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I know of a local dentist who cleans young children’s teeth one quadrant per visit so that if they start crying, they stop the cleaning and the child returns again so that the children don’t grow up fearing the dentist. Duh? I want my kids to fear the dentist. How else can I threaten teeth-brushing by saying the dentist is going to have to give you a filling.
Funny enough, more and more kids are getting cavities at an earlier age. Either that or we are sending our kids for checkups about ten years sooner than our possibly negligent parents sent us.
Since my daughter got a cavity sometime between age one and two, I have been obsessed with preventing them. And stopping them once they have begun. There are ways. First, I will answer your question, “How did you let a one year-old get cavities?! Do they even have teeth?” The answer is, “She had four front teeth. And she got cavities from her grandmother.” Not as in she inherited her grandmother’s teeth, but as in her grandmother gave her lollipops and cupcakes. No joke. The other reasons she got cavities is because she is a mouth breather while she sleeps. Fine, we were not doing a good job at brushing. There, I admit it. We are paying the price for it now because our dentist doesn’t take insurance.
Now you might be wondering why we would send our daughter to a dentist who doesn’t take insurance when there are many who do take it. I’ll get to that question soon enough.
Basically, a cavity on her front tooth was confirmed by our previous insurance-taking dentist. So we began arresting the cavity using various natural measures (more on those later). Lo and behold, it worked and nothing needed to be done. At a later checkup I told the dentist that I noticed a brown spot on her back molars. He quickly peeked in and said, no that’s nothing. I remember being really surprised and almost impressed with how quickly he looked in to make that assessment. Lesson learned, trust your instincts.
Fast forward 3 months. Surprise. Her dentist told us that she had severe cavities on her back molars and that cavities easily spread in children’s teeth because the enamel is softer. So they were on all her molars! Yes, these are the exact spots I was asking him about 3 months before and because he said they were stains and nothing more, I didn’t treat them with the same care as I had her front teeth. Next he said she might need a root canal and at the very least general anesthesia to fill the cavities. For $5,000. Seriously?! A root canal for a two year old? Now, I’m the one afraid of going to the dentist for my kids.
After extensive research I have learned that root canals and general anesthesia for filling cavities in young children is becoming the norm. I won’t go into those politics in this article.
I researched and interviewed multiple dentists to find a great dentist who filled my daughters teeth in about 15 minutes without any sedative. And the cavity on her front teeth has been arrested and didn’t require any fillings!
My daughter loves going to the dentist now. Yes, we bribe her. We bring a sugar-free chocolate bar (made with stevia), that she gets to eat if she promises not to bite the dentist/hygienist. (She bit her hygienist on the first visit and drew blood. The hygienist said it happened all the time and clamped open her mouth).
This wonderful dentist was not afraid of being feared by a 2 year old and my daughter, who is now 4, asks me with excitement when we get to go back to the dentist. No joke. The dentist did her, and us, a huge favor by not putting her under general anesthesia.
Here are some things we did to help with preventing new cavities and arresting the old ones. I share them here so you can see if they help, but remember I am not a dentist and this is not medical advice. Just some tips from a random mom who tried them out:
1.) Put hydrogen peroxide on a q-tip on occasion, and dab at the cavity. (The dentist said to use baking soda instead because the hydrogen peroxide would strip enamel but we did it anyway).
2.) Make a baking soda paste and smear that on the cavity. (The dentist suggested this).
3.) Miinimal Intervention (MI) paste – not a natural product but said to strengthen the teeth.
4.) Put toothpaste on the floss to get in between the back molars where cavities in children are most common.
5.) Brush teeth after sweets. Duh! Sugar is a preservative and rots teeth quickly. You can demonstrate this for your children by pouring sugar on plum or other fruit so they can observe, first-hand, how quickly it creates holes, liquifies and begins to break down.
6.) Limit juice (the equivalent of pouring sugar water on the teeth), dried fruits (they stick in between the teeth), pretzels and other carbs that stick between the teeth, etc.
7.) Carry xylitol (sugar-free) lollipops in your bag to give your kids when other kids are eating regular lollipops.