Hello everyone! Today we would like to welcome Mum Teresa to her first blog in her 'Keeping Mum' Series. Teresa is a busy mum of two gorgeous children, Jack and Amy. Here she will share her experiences of being a mum, we're delighted to have her!
Why we need to think beyond sugar for kid’s healthy teeth.
Jack had just turned 5 when he 1st mentioned having a toothache. I made a dental appointment straight away and much to my horror the dentist told me he had weak spots in all his teeth and cavities in most of his molars.
That was the start of our journey in trying to save his teeth, particularly the molars. Even though they are baby teeth the molars are the last teeth to fall out and as the dentist explained they provide the guide for the new teeth coming in, if he were to lose them early we would more than likely be looking at overcrowding and other issues when his adult teeth come down which would need corrective braces and extensive orthodontic treatment.
The “Mommy guilt” was huge! How did I not notice? How did I let this happen? Jack would have had sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks only as a treat, nothing excessive in my mind, he’s healthy, not above average weight (if anything a bit skinny!)
I felt some guilt lift when the dentist remarked that his oral hygiene was really good, not a lot of plaque on the teeth and it was obvious we brushed regularly. So why were his teeth so bad? We put a lot of it down to just weak teeth, one of those things.
We got his teeth filled and he had to use a fluoride mouthwash alongside his brushing. Any sweets were even more restricted, fizzy drinks and hard sweets like lollipops were cut out completely. Jack ate fruit, cheese, drank more milk and as his drink of choice had always been sugar free Volvic flavoured water that didn’t have to change.
But over the course of the last year and a half Jack’s teeth showed no major improvement. He had one tooth refilled twice and new weak spots were still appearing although they were slowed by the use of the fluoride mouthwash.
Then a passing comment seemed to open up a new possibility.
One of the risks with using fluoride is a condition called Fluorosis where the teeth get over mineralized by too much exposure to fluoride. While the dentist was explaining that once Jack loses a milk tooth we will have to stop the mouthwash he mentioned the added fluoride in our tap water. I told him Jack never drinks tap water and when I told him what he does drink he asked me to check the acidity of the water. Suddenly it seemed to make sense why the teeth were still getting weak even with so little sugar in Jack’s diet.
A quick Google search revealed that these flavoured waters that are seen as a healthy way of getting the recommended amount of water, or a good alternative to sugary drinks for kids can actually be a really bad choice. While they may be sugar free the additives include citric acid. Now the fact that they are fruit flavoured I suppose you would expect a little acid in there but after testing them with litmus paper they score a massive 2pH. In water!! I was stunned, but the amount of this water in particular that Jack would drink every day certainly would account for the erosion on his teeth.
So I ordered pH testing strips online (amazon) and now we test everything, obviously we don’t want to cut out fruit but we have to rinse the teeth after eating anything acidic, not brush for an hour after eating acidic foods (brushing actually brushes the acid into the teeth as opposed to removing it) and unfortunately our drink choices are now limited to milk (small amounts because of the sugar) and plain water. We were already limited as most sugar free drinks contain aspartame which we try to avoid. And it’s taking time but he’s getting used to the plain water. The poor thing has started to ask me not to test the food he likes because he’s afraid he won’t be able to have it!
We are constantly bombarded with information about the dangers of sugar, and rightly so, but when it comes to our children’s teeth I think there needs to be a lot more information about the dangers of acid erosion. I never in a million years would have thought that flavoured mineral water could pose such a serious risk to my kid’s teeth. And you know the only reason I used to give them flavoured drinks was because I never liked plain water myself, I wish I had introduced plain water as their main drink as toddlers and would encourage any parents of babies to do just that.
We’re back at the dentist in March to find out how our new regime is working.
I suppose I need to be thankful we discovered this before his adult teeth came in.
The acidity of Volvic a touch of fruit compared to River Rock still
(The lower the number the higher the acid content, 7 is the ideal pH)
Until next time- thank you for reading!