A couple of months ago we went for a routine dental check up with the boys. (Angelina had had hers a few weeks earlier). To my shock and horror the dentist discovered tooth cavities in both boys’ teeth. I felt awful, like I’d totally failed them.
Healthy teeth, in my view, are integral to healthy digestion and, therefore, to our overall health.
We discussed the cavities with the dentist, as she was filling the holes in the boys’ teeth.
How did the boys get the tooth cavities?
The Genetic Factor
For Max, sadly it is down to genetics or epigentics (how the genetics manifest based on environmental influences during early development & influences his father and I had on the reproductive cells we’ve passed on) or a pregnancy influence. See, he has very weak enamel on most of his hind teeth. This may be due to a genetic factor or it may have been a mineral deficiency or me being ill at a critical point of his teeth developing as a bundle of cells or fetus in my womb.
That is indelible mum guilt, right? Despite the fact that there is nothing I could’ve done, to my knowledge. (I was on supplements and eating a healthy, varied diet, as much as my morning sickness would allow.)
We are just hopeful the his adult teeth aren’t affected.
The Diet Factor
Sugar is a a culprit of tooth cavities for sure. However, it’s not just sweets, but all the hidden sugars in foods.
To avoid excess sugar:
- we drink fizzy drinks only in a blue moon,
- we seriously limit the amount of confectionery- chocolate, sweets- and cakes the kids consume.
(I mean, I’ll steal theirs, just to save their teeth!…that’s how seriously I take it!)
- they are allowed sweets only once a week- on Sweetie Saturday, which is a Swedish tradition that we’ve quickly adopted. The rationale is their teeth get exposed to all the sugar just once a week, instead of in small doses daily.
- they drink water most of the time
Any other hints and tips on avoiding sugar?
The Brushing Factor
The dentist, after doing the fillings, booked us in with the dental hygienist. She asked for both Dadonthebrink and me to be there and judging from the talking to I got, this is where we got it wrong. The tooth brushing is my parenting fail.
In my strive to give my children independence on as many tasks as they can do on their own, I also relinquished brushing their teeth somewhere around the age of 3. They were cute doing it and taking pride in their independence. I mean we equipped them well: they’ve had cute (but very short-lived) electric tooth brushes from Santa Claus, our bathroom has a little hourglass timer to help brushing long enough and we have a variety of toothpaste flavours to help them enjoy brushing. I just left them to be independent. It’s what you do, right?
Apparently, children upto the age of 12 should have a parent help them with brushing their teeth every evening. And the way the hygienist explained it and demonstrated it, last week at our appointment, this should not be just helping, but actually doing it for the child. Then in the mornings, they can do it for themselves. Hmm, we’ve integrated it into our routine. The boys have been ok with it since they had a “doctor” tell them to allow us to do it. Angelina, on the other hand, aged 11, flat out refused to have us poking around in her mouth. We supervise her instead.
I’m feeling so guilty for their tooth cavities as a result of the hygienist session. I guess it’s not always best to get your kids independent in their tasks as soon as possible.
Hit me up with your hints and tips of how you’ve tackled the kids’ dental hygiene?
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