It is sad that for much of human history, rotting teeth were a fact of life. People simply didn’t know how to protect themselves from plaque-causing bacteria, leading to untold misery for millions.
With the advent of modern dental practices, however, things began to improve. Fluoride toothpaste and regular trips to the dentist meant that society could finally turn a corner. People regularly made it into their fifties and sixties with their chompers intact.
It wasn’t all good news, though. While adult oral health is getting better, children’s teeth are getting worse. Dentists are now giving children fillings for rotten teeth at a faster rate than ever before. Quite frankly, it’s a little scary!
So what’s driving it?
In a word: sugar. No prizes for getting the right answer there.
The average child today consumes a whopping 28 teaspoons of sugar per day, mostly in the form of fizzy drink. This intake then provides food for nasty species of bacteria which churn out acids that rot the teeth and lead to infection.
Most children eat sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and so their mouths never get a break. They’re continually feeding the harmful bacteria, leading to damage to their enamel.
The problem is now so bad that even the modern miracle of fluoride toothpaste is powerless to stop it entirely. You can have a child who brushes his teeth twice a day for two minutes and still has a mouth full of fillings. Sugar intake is just too high. Fillings, root canals and extractions all inevitably follow.
So what’s the solution here?
Parents need to take a more active role in the health of their kids’ teeth. It’s not just about making sure that they brush them – although that helps. It’s also about controlling what they put in their mouths and getting acquainted with the dentist from an early age.
Sugar Is The Main Problem
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that sugar is the main problem when it comes to our children’s oral health. Practically every packaged food that you buy off the shelf in the grocery store is packed with the stuff. Just look at the ingredients list.
The trick here is to avoid buying processed food. Products that contain sugar and refined flour have a nasty habit of fostering the growth of harmful bacteria that damage both teeth and gums. Stick, where possible, to the produce aisle and consume natural foods humans have been eating for thousands of years.
Interestingly, if you look at the teeth of children from traditional farming populations, you often find that their teeth are very good. A diet of brown rice and vegetables is infinitely superior to one of sugar-filled sodas and Danish pastries.
Orthodontics Are Important Too
It’s not just sugar, though, that puts your kids at risk of developing dental problems in the future. Crooked teeth can play a role too.
The reasons for this are interesting. When a child has crooked teeth, is it more difficult for them to brush the surface of every tooth. Misalignment provides refuges for harmful bacteria to grow unabated and escape removal.
If you’re worried about appearances, you don’t have to opt for wire braces any more. You can now get high quality Invisalign treatment which is practically invisible unless you’re right in close. Plus, it is removable, so the child doesn’t have to wear it all day long if they don’t want to. For most parents (and kids), it is a better option.
See The Dentist Three Times Per Year
The current advice is to visit the dentist twice per year for checkups, but this seems a little too infrequent for modern-day kids. The threat to their teeth is just too high.
The American Dental Association currently recommends that kids first visit the dentist at age one. Now, that might sound too early to a lot of you out there, but there’s a reason for this. First, the modern environment is so toxic to teeth that problems can emerge even at this early stage. And, second, it helps get your children used to the idea of going to the dentist. It becomes another natural part of life, not something that should cause them to feel scared.
Cavities usually occur following poor brushing technique. It is always good, therefore, to have a professional actually show your kids how to use a toothbrush correctly.
Give Electric Toothbrushes As Christmas Presents
Electric toothbrushes might seem like a gimmick, but when you look into the science supporting them, you discover the opposite. These brushes clean teeth far more thoroughly than the leading manual varieties, making them well worth the investment.
Electric toothbrushes are also a lot of fun to use, especially if you buy a premium model. Top manufacturers include companion apps with their devices that show you where and how to brush, and for how long. They also track data, so you can see just how good your kids’ oral hygiene habits are!
Start Oral Hygiene Habits Early
Ideally, you want to start brushing your child’s teeth from the moment that their baby teeth come through. Not only will this provide protection and stop you from getting into trouble with the dentist, but it will also instil good habits. They will get used to the idea of having this strange sensation in their mouths and learn to accept it, just like the rest of us do. While it isn’t always pleasant at first, it is the right thing to do for the child’s future.
Rotting teeth can create all kinds of problems for parents. There’s the stress of going to the dentist, the pain the child must endure, and the worry that one bad tooth will infect another. It’s just not worth it. Fortunately, by applying some of the small changes outlined above, you can avoid the lion’s share of problems. Simple things like switching to diet soda or visiting the dentist every few months can have an enormous impact.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock
Image of sugar courtesy of Shutterstock