Despite working hard to provide the very best for our children, many parents feel like failures when they find that their little ones have cavities.
For some of us, one or more of our children are plagued with unhealthy teeth and we are left wondering "Why is this happening to my child?"
The stigma surrounding "bad teeth" and concern about the child's mental and physical well being is a huge source of stress for parents facing this issue.
To further complicate matters, modern dental care can be expensive and frightening--especially for very small children. There are also health concerns related to modern exams and treatments that are hard to avoid when heading to the dental office.
A good deal of confusing information abounds concerning the causes of decay and extreme decay--including ongoing misinformation about the relationship between breastfeeding and tooth decay. See our current discussion on this topic.
For these reasons, many parents are now exploring natural ways to prevent and heal teeth in their own homes or with holistic professionals. But the research on whether natural approaches work, and the advice for carrying out such preventative measure and treatments, is confusing at best. What really works and what doesn't? What is safe? Where does one start? And, at the forefront of our minds, is a natural approach really a healthy alternative to seeing the dentist?
And while it seems there is no simple answer to these questions--especially since every child's situation must be looked at differently--we can at least educate ourselves. Doing so allows us to know that whatever decision we make we have done it with care.
We hope the following guide will help you in your dental journey. We have pulled together expert advice, the experiences of real parents and some product suggestions to get you started on the right foot.
What the Experts Say
We asked some the experts in the natural dental care world to share their help and advice with us.
Here is what they had to say.
My Daughter Had Severe Tooth Decay
At a little over one year old, my breastfed daughter developed a small white spot on her tooth. The spot later turned browned, and then at around the age of a year and a half, the tooth crumbled apart. Her mouth became riddled with cavities. We ate organic food, and did not feed her processed sugar. I knew something was wrong with what I was reading about tooth decay in young children because they call it “baby bottle tooth decay,” yet she never had a bottle.
My daughter is now nine years old, her eight adult teeth are cavity free. Her teeth that were severely decayed have protected themselves. Here are some tips and explanations on how you can prevent tooth decay and even remineralize your child’s teeth.
Modern Dental Treatments for Early Childhood Cavities are Usually Traumatic
Modern dentistry does not offer any appealing treatments for our little ones suffering from tooth decay. Conventional dentistry uses the following treatments to treat cavities in young children:
To treat tooth decay in babies and children, most dentists work towards extracting decayed baby teeth, and/or placing metal crowns on the decaying tooth (which contain highly toxic aluminum). A new trend within conventional dentistry is to perform a root canal on a baby tooth. The least invasive treatment offered for children’s cavities by dentists is usually fluoride. Unfortunately, fluoride is highly toxic. If these treatments stopped tooth decay then perhaps the suffering and toxicity might be worth it. Studies and research from England show that drilling and filling is not an effective way of dealing with children’s cavities as it does not usually prevent pain or suffering or stop the decay.
What Dentistry is Missing
What modern dentistry does not understand is that tooth decay in children is a result of a lack of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. It’s not just the teeth in the child’s body suffering from this deficiency, but their entire body. So even if dental treatments hide the result of this deficiency and make a child’s teeth look aesthetic, the cause of tooth decay is not addressed.
Professor’s Edward and May Mellanby, who were successfully treating tooth decay nutritionally in the early-mid 1900’s found by microscopic evaluation of children’s teeth that a large percentage of baby teeth erupt with weak enamel. Parents whose young child has severe cavities, must understand that it has to do with the fact that their child teeth came in weak. So their teeth are more sensitive or prone to decay. Usually childhood cavities is a mixture of poorly mineralized teeth coming in, and a lack of nutritional density in the diet.
Conventional dentistry misses the cause of cavities because the training of dentists is designed to make them good at treating cavities surgically. The industry has only a small interest in prevention because of a myopic and limited view on the cause of cavities based in fear in which bacteria are blamed and people are just hopeless victims to it. This theory is a very convenient way to push their treatment agenda and dare I say, make more money.
Groundbreaking Dental Research in Indigenous Cultures
Dr. Weston Price was a dentist in the 1930’s who spent many years studying the traditional diets of indigenous groups who had no or very low incidences of tooth decay. He found one key common characteristic between the groups is that they ate regularly from two of the following three food categories:
1. Raw, grass-fed dairy including, milk, cheese, cream and butter;
2. Organs of sea animals including fish organs, fish heads, fish eggs, oysters, clams, mussels, and crab and lobster with the innards;
3. Organs of land animals including liver, bone marrow, tongue, heart, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands, gonads and for the more adventurous - brain, eyes and the stomach lining;
Our modern diets are noticeably lacking in sea and land animal organs and most households do not even consume raw grassfed diary. It also can take a real commitment to finding creative ways to incorporate these foods into our diets. However, it is possible to make these changes and the nutritional value of these foods is truly phenomenal in their ability to strengthen your children’s teeth and overall health. It is important to keep in mind that it is not necessary to consume large quantities of these foods. What is important is that we eat them frequently and eat enough of them to meet our nutritional needs.
Our modern diet is essentially devoid of these nutritionally dense foods. Since these foods are not consumed on a regular basis in the modern world, it is no wonder our children’s bodies and teeth are so often characterized by disease or poor immunity.
The key component in these special foods is fat-soluble vitamin D. Fat-soluble vitamin D is proven to reduce cavities by 47% in a survey of historical studies.
Read the full article, Understanding Your Child’s Tooth Decay: Where Modern Dentistry Goes Wrong, with specific suggestions for treatment in Ramiel Nagel's article on our site.
Dr. Alonzo H. Jones, DO, offers advice on Xylitol (an ingredient in the Spry products used by many parents to prevent and treat cavities).
Most dental hygienists know about the benefits of xylitol in preventing tooth decay, and even many dentists who make their living filling cavities are getting into prevention. Xylitol has been examined in scientific studies to see how it works, as well as in community wide studies comparing it to other alternative sweeteners. The bottom line of these is that xylitol has an edge in preventing tooth decay because of a specific effect on the bacteria living in the plaque on our teeth (these are the same bacteria that eat the sugars in our diet and make an acid that eats through the enamel surfaces of our teeth and begin a cavity).
What xylitol does is change these bacteria so they either go away or stop making the acid. Putting xylitol in the mouth five times a day prevents about 80% of tooth decay. You can get xylitol in bulk form and put it in your coffee or tea, you can get gum from a variety of manufacturers and most health food stores have a few brands. The amount of xylitol in gum labeled ‘XYLITOL’ that is available at the supermarket is usually not enough to give any benefit. Read the small print under ‘ingredients;’ xylitol should be the first ingredient. Xlear is one of the leading manufacturers and makes toothpaste, gum, mints, and mouthwash under the Spry label. They also make a very delightful candy called SparX that is almost habit forming!"
Finally, the creator of a nutrient supplement for kids and adults called The Dental Essentials, Melinda Friedman, explains why they chose the minerals and vitamins they did for their special blend.
We went back to the nutritional research of the 20s, 30s and 40s and were amazed at the quality of the research, and the results that were achieved: complete reversal, healing and prevention of cavities through nutrition. These clinical studies were published in the best peer-reviewed medical and dental journals of the day, yet today are almost completely unknown.
The ingredients in The Dental Essentials are based on the successful results of these studies.
Their site goes on to explain:
It's not magic. It's mother nature.
The human body has a remarkable capacity to heal itself. We fight off colds and flu, heal cuts and scrapes, repair fractured bones. Teeth are no different. They are not simply passive or inert, but will actively remineralize areas of decay. This is a proven fact, and has been known since before the 1930's.
However, when nutrition is inadequate, your teeth's natural defense against decay and ability to remineralize is compromised.
The research of May Mellanby clearly demonstrated that when children were fed a calcifying diet rich in vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, areas of decay remineralized and hardened, and cavities became "arrested" or healed. If cereals were eliminated from their diet, decay virtually stopped. Dr Weston Price found that remineralization was further enhanced when both vitamin D and vitamin K2 were supplemented.
So what can you do if you have a cavity?
Consider the natural, nutritional approach. Optimal intake of vitamins D and K2, calcium, phosphorus and other minerals can maximize your teeth's natural defenses, so your teeth can arrest decay and remineralize damaged areas without the need for drilling and filling.
The Dental Essentials is formulated to provide a balanced blend of these crucial nutrients so you can heal cavities, naturally, with results in as little as 3 months." Read more on their site.
Look for some of the products mentioned here in the products section to your right.
What Parents Say
As part of the research for this guide, Mothering hosted a conversation in the community about what solutions real parents have found to their children's dental issues.
Here is what some of our parents said.
Member "jill the pill" says:
"I make my own toothpaste out of baking soda, calcium carbonate, benonite clay, xylitol, coconut oil, and essential oils for taste. It works better than any other toothpaste I have ever used. My dentist had a watch on a tooth a couple years ago. I went to the same dentist 6 months ago and he said I had no signs of a cavity. I had been using my toothpaste for about 3 months when I went to my appointment. My 3 year old also uses this toothpaste and the hygenist said she had NO plaque on her teeth at all. Make your own toothpaste and heal your teeth!"
Member "kristinebrown" says:
"My son is 6 and has a mouthful of cavities. He's the only one of my 4 kids that has cavities. I do not have any either and I am 41. My son is different than all my other kids in what he can handle food wise. He cannot tolerate food dyes, preservatives, PASTEURIZED milk, gluten/wheat and I'm beginning to suspect other foods such as oranges as well.
I am concerned with getting his cavities filled as studies are now showing that the BPA in the composite fillings can cause depression and behavioral disorders. I already suspect my son is somewhere on the spectrum, removing the above foods from his diet has improved the symptoms significantly but there is still something I'm missing. I'm curious to know if others have children that may be on the spectrum who have major sensitivities to food and have cavities.
I am giving him 500 - 1000 mg vitamin C daily (I give him 1000 until he starts getting loose stools then back down to 500), 5000 IU vitamin D3, 2 acidophilus tablets and a dose of Blue Ice Royal Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend. He also eats lots of butter, eggs, meat, fish. We brush with Earthpaste toothpaste after meals and oil pull every night before bed."
Member "DeeplyRooted" says:
"I just got back from the dentist a few minutes ago, coincidentally. Last time I was there, she noticed a very small cavity and suggested that I might want to make an appointment to get it filled. I didn't. Instead, I embarked on a "heal that cavity" crusade.
Here's all I did:
* Xylitol gum, once a day except on days I forgot about it. This particular gum also has calcium and B12 supplementation, and I found it at Whole Foods. Pretty easy.
* Vitamin supplements and D drops. Not every day, either, but enough to cover whatever I'm missing in my diet. Tooth remineralization requires available nutrients!
* Maintain a non-acidic environment in my mouth. This meant rinsing my mouth with water after drinking coffee or tea, for instance; I also brush sometimes in the middle of the day, and I use the aforementioned xylitol gum (which, like toothpaste, has the effect of creating a slightly alkaline environment). This is important because tooth enamel demineralizes much more easily in acid.
* Less refined sugar, but that was something I was doing anyway. My diet is generally less awful than the standard American diet, but it's not super healthy either. We eat a lot of greens, we try to eat nutritionally dense foods in general, and our eggs and meat are pastured. But we definitely eat grains and sweet stuff. That being said, I'm more conscious now of when I'm feeding the bacteria on my teeth, so I try to clean 'em off when I can -- swishing warm water, brushing teeth, eating apples, chewing xylitol gum.
Member "aplusnumberone" says:
"We are in the early stages of healing a cavity in our toddler. ECC often has nutritional causes, but in our case we found via a naturopathic doctor, she has heavy metal toxicity (probably from me, in utero) causing the problem. We are addressing that, and have adopted a grain free Weston Price type diet, using Spry toothpaste and coconut oil to brush to start to heal the tooth. I think finding the root cause was the big "aha" for us. The dietary changes probably protected her other teeth while we were searching for the cause. I was told by the Pediatrician that it was caused by night nursing (all other drs involved disagree), the holistic dentist said eating grain (which was probably true,too) but we really had to keep digging to find the whole picture. I think it's worth it, because now her overall health will be better, including her adult teeth. I have to remember that ECC is a symptom of a disrupted system, not a disease to be drilled away, like most dentists will have you believe. I'm lucky we caught it early enough that no other intervention (hopefully) will be necessary once the tooth begins to remineralize."
Member "anab" says:
"I am on a quest to heal my daughter's teeth after having read Ramiel Nagel's "Cure Tooth Decay" http://www.eco-babyz.com/2012/12/crumbling-baby-teeth.html
We're having some progress already, and we haven't even bought the good quality cod liver oil yet and haven't gotten around to our local farm for grass fed dairy. The only changes we've made are cutting out sugar and grains and switching to grass-fed (store bought) butter and cheese. Can't wait to get my hands on what she actually should be eating!"
Member "blessedbyblues" says:
"We have had great success healing my 3.5 y.o. LO's cavities! He had one major cavity and FOUR small ones, plus a cracked tooth from when he bit a rock (don't ask). Ugh. But here it is about ten months later, there is only a faint shadow of the big cavity, and the other spots have all healed. This has happened faster than I anticipated. We took him off of grains entirely and started him on probiotics and krill oil to heal his ASD, plus he gets 8,000 IU D3 and low dose K2 (MK-7) daily. I give him a trace minerals supplement because we have filtered water. He has made enormous strides in his therapy and speech development with this treatment, and remineralizing his teeth has been a beautiful side benefit. I brush his teeth with coconut oil twice daily, and he periodically swishes with baking soda and water."
Member "xavismom" says:
"We battled with this for about 2 years. Here is our story for anyone interested.
DS got his teeth really early, about 4 months. We did what we were supposed to, cleaning them with the little finger brush. His teeth started to look bad pretty quickly, showing brown spots. At first it was just the two front top teeth, but it spread after that to the ones next to the front one, so the top 4 were affected.
I absolutely did NOT want to put my 1 year old under for this, so I began researching trying to heal his teeth. This was pretty much our routine,
Brushing with Xylitol toothpaste mixed with pascalite clay twice a day
Using xylitol wipes after snacks (Spiffies)
Having a period of time every day after his mouth was cleaned out with xylitol, and food free, for re mineralization
I would make a little clay ball of pascalite to pack onto his front teeth while he slept
Eating more raw organic butter, DHA supplements, Fish oil, Vit D supplements
Cell salts #1 #2 & #12 six times daily (two tablets of each)
I did not stop nursing him at night. From all my research, I learned that as long as his mouth was CLEAN, the breastmilk should actually help with the healing, and my Dentist (we see a Biological Dentist who is fluoride/mercury free) agreed with this.
Anyhow, sometimes we would see improvement, and it would seem like the cavities were disappearing, with his teeth turning back to a whitish color, and sometimes it would get worse. It was kind of a one step forward, two step back kind of thing. It kept giving me hope we COULD do it, but it never did, it just kept getting much worse.
I started suspecting that his teeth were causing him pain, even though he told me they didn't hurt. It was just a Mama intuition. We gave up on healing, and about 1 month before he turned 3, we had our Dentist work on his teeth. I told him to fix everything he could find, even if it was very small, so that we would hopefully NEVER have to do this again. My son ended up having to have his two front teeth, and one of the side teeth (3 total) pulled out, and he had at least one small cavity in every molar."
Below is a list of products that have been recommended by parents in our community for help in preventing and treating dental decay.
There is a good amount of information in the community for each of these items--so in addition to reviewing the information below follow the provided links for reviews and insights and check out the community for even more.
If you have used these products please consider leaving a review. Your feedback will help other parents make informed decisions in the future.
Links to the review pages are found under each product.
Green Pasture Products™ is a family owned business started by Dave and Barb Wetzel in 2000. Our business focus is to provide high-quality sacred-food oils just as they were made prior to the industrialized food and farming revolution.
High-Vitamin Butter Oil is our foundation product that all our work has blossomed through. Dr. Weston Price discovered High-Vitamin Butter Oil back in the 1930's but the pinnacle of his discovery was when he combined Cod Liver Oil with High-Vitamin Butter Oil.
Ensure they get all the nutrients that have been clinically proven to promote natural remineralization and reduce their risk of cavities by up to 95%. Everyday, simply give your family “The Dental Essentials,” as easy-to-swallow tablets for teens and older kids, or liquid drops in milk or other calcium source for the youngsters.
That's it. Within as little as three months, teeth can become significantly more resistant to decay and the incidence of cavities decreases drastically.
Cell Salts stimulate the body's natural healing mechanisms to satisfy mineral deficiencies and imbalances. In his biochemic theory, Dr. Schuessler, the discoverer of Cell Salts, states that deficiencies in these minerals are the source of most common health problems and that the Cell Salts derived from these minerals give the body what it needs to prevent and treat illness. With today's reliance on highly processed foods, keeping a healthy balance of minerals in the body is a major challenge. Hyland's Cell Salts can be part of a healthy daily regimen.
Cell Salts are made from the minerals that cells require every day. Cell Salts are specially formulated in homeopathic microdoses, making them safe for the whole family including children over one year of age and are safe to use with other medications.
We wanted a toothpaste that was as natural as possible, so we started with hydrated Redmond Clay and added Xylitol, essential oils, and Real Salt. And that's it. Earthpaste is amazingly natural toothpaste.
Earthpaste began because we couldn't find a natural toothpaste we loved for our families. We wanted a toothpaste that was as natural as possible, so we started with hydrated Redmond Clay and added Xylitol, essential oils, and Real Salt. And that's it.
Earthpaste's list of ingredients is unique, but the things we left out are just as important. Most brands of toothpaste contain foaming agents like SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), and chemicals like titanium dioxide to make the paste bright white. Not Earthpaste. It isn't just safe to swallow each ingredient in Earthpaste has been used to support healthy systems.
Earthpaste delivers all the benefits you expect from a toothpaste without any chemicals or unnatural additives. Its toothpaste unlike any other you've experienced you'll see the difference on your brush and feel the difference in your mouth.
Fluoride-free and SLS-free tooth gel for kids uses xylitol and calcium to gently clean and build the oral health of infants and children, and the delicious natural bubble gum flavor will help encourage your child's good dental hygiene. Part of the Spry Dental Defense System line of products, Spry Infant Tooth Gel has been specifically developed to be used in building the oral health of infants and children.
Spry Infant Tooth Gel is safe to swallow and is designed to be used twice daily. Regular use of Spry Infant Tooth Gel supports the absorption of calcium for the development of healthy tooth enamel.
Helps Strengthen Kids' Natural Defense System. Natural Probiotic Supplement with Lactobacillus GG.
Kids' immune systems are constantly being challenged- every day at school, at home and even from some of the foods they eat. And kids frequently have digestive issues or "tummy troubles." These issues may be due to the fact that they have an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in their digestive tract where 70% of the immune system resides.
One way to help combat your child's health challenges is Culturelle for kids. Culturelle for kids contains Lactobacillus GG, the beneficial bacteria recommended by pediatricians and the first dairy-free Lactobacillus GG probiotic.
Taking Culturelle on a daily basis will give kids the boost they need to help strengthen their natural defenses against health challenges and occasional digestive upset. . Unlike yogurts and other probiotics functional foods, Culturelle contains no sucrose or corn syrup, artificial coloring or preservatives. It is completely dairy and gluten free and contains no allergens.
When Children reach 100 pounds consider switching to the adult Culturelle for the same immune and digestive benefits.