February 06, 2018 6 min read
We might forgive you for not marking it on your calendar, as it is not a celebrated, or even widely known event the fact is that your child's oral health is far more important than simply preventing cavities. Fostering great oral health at an early age, and developing the healthy habits that go along with this, can lead to far greater overall health and well-being in your child's adulthood life.
More and more, we have come to recognize that oral health is inseparable from overall health and well-being.
In a major, landmark report by the Surgeon General of the United States on oral health, the following statements were made:
The important takeaway here is that establishing strong oral health care routines means more than just "preventing cavities." These habits and routines are a vital part of lifelong health and well-being.
We love this one, prehistoric man (and kids of course) did not suffer from the oral health disease epidemic that modern man suffers from. Quite amazingly, scientists have been able to study the teeth of early man (back in his "hunter-gatherer" phase) and aside from stronger teeth, these researchers were able to determine that early man had a very strong and diverse bacterial mix in their mouths. No doubt, the low carbohydrate and low sugar diet, along with periods of fasting, played a powerful role in maintaining healthy bacterial colonies in their mouths. As the key to oral health lies with the bacteria in our mouths, this supports that fact of early man's superior oral health.
Further support comes from the dramatic change in our oral health as humans left the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and settled into agricultural communities. Eating more grains and carbohydrates led to less healthy bacterial mixes in our mouths-and even diminished the varieties present. Then, as sugars and simple carbohydrates became prevalent, oral disease exploded-with a corresponding decrease in our mix of bacterial strains.
NOTE: Bacteria is actually essential for the preservation of oral health. It is the overgrowth of certain "bad" bacteria along with the suppression of other bacteria-or even disappearance-that sets the stage for tooth decay, gum disease and other forms of oral health disease.
Tooth enamel is the strongest tissue in the body. Stronger than bone or any other part of the body, the tooth enamel is designed and evolved to last a lifetime. The downside is that it is NOT living tissue, meaning that it cannot regenerate or regrow. Once that tooth enamel Is gone, it is gone for good. This means that preserving your child's enamel from an early age on is a good path to follow. While there is certainly some wear and tear from life and living-such as grinding, abrasion, eating and so forth-the biggest culprit is acidic erosion.
Sugar, in particular, encourages rapid bacterial growth of the wrong kind, the kind that churns out powerful acid byproducts capable of dissolving and destroying the enamel. Perhaps the very worst offenders are sugary sodas, or sodas of any kind. These are not only loaded with sugars but are highly acidic as well. Not to be overly "preachy" but soda drinks, even diet ones, have zero nutritional value and have no place in any healthy, or acceptable, diet. Fruit juices, while seemingly a "healthy choice" are little better and in many cases pack far more sugar that most any soda. Interesting fact: sodas, juices and other sugary drinks will actually soften up the enamel, which means that tooth brushing immediately following a sugary intake can actually accelerate enamel loss.
The takeaway here is that sugary sodas and juices are best avoided. If they are occasionally "enjoyed" then the best advice might be to swish with clean water, or salt water, immediately after. Then chew some sugarless gum, preferably with Xylitol, to encourage saliva flow to counteract the acidic effect.
Some good news for your child, while perhaps not in our lifetimes (perhaps doesn't mean NOT…), there is very promising research in stem cells that could lead to full tooth regeneration. That's right, we could realistically be able to regrow actual teeth!
Here is how that would theoretically work, stem cells are taken from the teeth, or bone. These cells are then put onto a framework of sorts that is in the desired shape of the tooth. The cells replicate and form a tooth, the framework dissolves, and "voila" a tooth. This is far easier to write than to do, but the process has actually seen success in test labs on mice and monkeys, and human clinical trials are underway. It is quite a challenge for researchers but it is certainly far from being a pipe dream.
While this is certainly great news, particularly as 25% of all American adults over the age of 65 have lost ALL of their teeth, yikes! We definitely don't want our kids to be a part of that statistic. Interested in finding out more about this, check it out at NSU Researchers study tooth regrowth from stem cells FACT FOUR: Kids have a lot of cavities and tooth decay is the number one chronic illness amongst children. In fact, 50% of kids in the 5-9 age bracket have at least one cavity or filling. When you jump up to the adolescent band, this percentage approaches 80%. That is a lot of tooth decay and at those percentages it would be safe to assume that your child is suffering from some form of oral health disease.
Keep in mind that life is connected. A cavity does not exist in isolation but is a mirror to the overall health of your child. It is also a factor in their productivity, education and social involvement. A staggering fact is that in average year fifty-one million school hours are lost to dental-related issues and illnesses. That is a considerable amount of time.
The point here is that tooth decay and poor oral health are not "facts of life" or even inevitable. These conditions can be prevented. Simple changes to one's diet, regular dental checkups to catch problems early on and consistent oral hygiene can prevent oral disease-leading to better health and well-being.
According to a study done by the AHA, American Heart Association, the average American child consumes 19 teaspoons of sugar PER DAY!!! Whoa, let's expand that out a bit, this means that the average kid is eating a pound of sugar every 4 days, which works out to about 8 pounds of sugar a month! And we wonder why childhood obesity and diabetes is going through the roof. Or why oral health disease has been called the "silent epidemic." Sugar does not fulfill any nutritional needs. It skyrockets insulin and leads to multiple physical issues-far too many to even begin to touch upon here. The point is that sugar, whether from sodas, juices, yogurts or many "health foods" has no place in a daily diet. Enjoy cakes, ice creams and other desserts as occasional treats but do your kids, and yourself a favor and work to eliminate it from your diet. This means reading labels as today's food providers put sugar in just about everything! And get wise, they often disguise sugars as various syrups, extracts and so forth.
Wean your child from sugars at an early age and you are setting the stage for a lifetime of better health, well-being and even emotional stability as the hormonal imbalances caused by sugar intake can feed depression and other emotional ills.
We do hope that these interesting, if not fun, facts will help you to create a better life for your family.
Oral health does not just mean the lack of cavities. It means a more vibrant life with the enjoyment of food, talking, smiling, laughing and so much that we do with our mouths. It means better health overall, as your mouth is the gateway to your body. And it means a more fulfilling life, as good health is the foundation of well-being and good living.
Our mission at Great Oral Health is to transform the face of oral health across the world, thus helping individuals and families to lead better lives. Thanks for taking the time to read this and we sincerely hope that we have helped you to take your next step to great oral health.