Children should start visiting the dentist by the time they are 1 year old, or when their first tooth appears. Advice from the dentist, particular for each patient, will prevent, or at least address, problems with the teeth and gums.
Even the occasional child with healthy habits can suffer some dental issues. Teeth can still be crooked no matter how often they are cleaned. And an accident may mean a damaged tooth. So dentist need to monitor each individual patient for issues.
Sugar, Diet and the Childrens Dentist
We have known for several generations that children eat too much sugar. And that this is a habit that can be at least partially carried over into adults. Modern surveys and research only serve to confirm this. Of course, we cannot expect the child to act responsibly when it comes to their diet. So parent will have to set at least some restrictions. Providing alternatives to sugar can also help.
Sugar will feed the bad bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay. Bad bacteria also lead to gum infections. If we eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates we will reduce the bad bacteria that cause all these dental issues. Cleaning the teeth will remove a lot of the sugar, as will mouthwash. But this cleaning also reduces the good bacteria, which we need to keep. So cleaning is not enough, we also need a healthy diet.
Eating healthy, generally natural and unprocessed foods, goes a long way to reducing dental issues. We all know this means vegetables, salad and fruit. It also means reducing bread and junk food as much as possible.
Most children will have a craving for sweet foods. We cannot expect them to abstain from this entirely, but alternatives to sugar will help.
Diet soft drinks – These have minimal sugar, sometimes none at all. But unfortunately they are still acidic, which is harsh on teeth. Occasional diet soft drinks followed by water (to wash most of the acid off) aren’t too bad.
Stevia – This sweetener made from a plant. It is very low calorie, helps lower blood pressure, and seems to be a good option for diabetic people. Use this in place of sugar.
Xylitol – This is a sugar alcohol that tastes similar to conventional sugar, with the advantage that it does not feed the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Exclusive use of causes the bad bacteria to starve. But introduce this slowly into the diet as it can cause digestive issues in higher amounts. (Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and some other animals).
Yacon Syrup – This is another plant based natural sweetener, which also contains some fibre and benefits the good bacteria in the digestive system.
Monk Fruit – Again, plant based and natural, but this is still being researched. It is very low calorie appears to be safe.
Aspartame – This has been popular for years, appearing in many foods. But it is not natural, and has been linked to many allergies. Some people find it causes constant tiredness, or aggravates other conditions. It can kill a lot of the healthy bacteria in our gut, leading to depression and disorientation. If you suffer any illness, try avoiding this for a few weeks and see if there is any change.
Chocolate – This is not as unhealthy as we were lead to believe in the past. In fact, it would be considered quite healthy, were it not for the sugar content. Find chocolate sweetened with stevia, and use this instead of other candy.
Regular twice-per-year dental visits, a healthy diet, and diligent cleaning will mean healthy teeth, and better overall health.