Natural Approach to Dental Care for Children
Many families want to lessen their impact on the planet. One way to be more environmentally conscious is to start in your home with personal hygiene. Children are some of the first people to be impacted by chemicals and environmental degradation. Choosing a natural approach to dental care for your kids will help your lifestyle be more green.
Some people use baking soda to clean their teeth. It is slightly abrasive and helps to remove plaque build up. It also helps to remove stains from teeth and minimizes food odors. Some people put some baking soda directly on a tooth brush and brush regularly. Others create a watery paste with baking soda and water. You can then use a toothbrush, some gauze or another material to rub the gums and teeth of your children. Consult a physician if your children may have heart problems or high blood pressure before using baking soda for dental care. Baking soda should not be consumed by children or babies.
Linda Page, Ph.D., author of "Healthy Healing" suggests eating and thoroughly chewing crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables every day to reduce plaque, help jaw growth and prevent corrosion.
Rub a half of a strawberry on the teeth of your children and let it sit for a half hour, rinse and brush with a plain toothbrush. If your children are old enough, cider vinegar can be used to rinse the mouth a few times a day to help reduce bacteria.
C. Shealy MD, Ph.D., author of "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies," suggests that brushing with horseradish helps kill bacteria and heal mouth ulcers. Reserve horseradish for older children that can handle the spiciness of the root. In addition, cloves are an analgesic and antiseptic. Gauze can be soaked in clove oil and placed over an injured gum to help reduce pain.
Tea tree oil is an all around antiseptic that can be used in a mouth wash. Dr. Page suggests adding three drops to a cup of water to use as a mouthwash. This mouthwash should not be used with children who may swallow it. Dr. Page also suggests that teas of dandelion root, white sage, or parsley are helpful in reducing tooth tarter.
Calcium is a mineral that can be found in dairy, leafy greens, hard tap water, salmon, canned fish, beans, nuts, tofu and eggs. The recommended daily allowance, RDA, for calcium is 800 to 1,200 mg. Too much calcium -- doses of 2,000 mg and over -- can cause calcium deposits in the kidneys. Even so, Dr. Shealy states that this is unlikely since extra calcium is usually excreted unless extra vitamin D is also being taken. Phosphorus helps the mineralization and structure formation of bones and teeth. It can be found in yeast, dried milk, dairy, wheat germ, eggs, cereal, canned fish and hard cheese. The U.S. RDA is 800 to 1,200 mg. Dr. Shealy recommends eating twice as much calcium as phosphorous. Phosphorous deficiencies are rare.
Fluoride, electrically charged fluorine, can be found naturally in drinking water and as a chemical additive put in drinking water by the government. In small amounts, fluoride is intended to help strengthen teeth. Fluoride's safety is debated. Many commercial toothpastes include fluoride. It is not found in beginner toothpaste because it is hard to guarantee that fluoridated toothpaste will not be swallowed. According to Dr. Shealy, the best sources of naturally occurring fluorine are seafood, animal meat, fluoridated drinking water and tea. The U.S. RDA is 1 mg of fluoride or 3.6 mg of sodium fluoride. Excess fluoride at or above 10 mg a day can cause fluorosis, it can cause irregular patches on the tooth enamel, depresses hunger, and can cause calcification of the spine. Do not supplement your child's diet with fluoride without consulting with your health care provider or dentist.
According to Dr. Shealy, you can allow your teething child to gum on a cold raw carrot or licorice root. Make sure that your child does not bite off a piece and choke. You may find it helpful to offer a frozen washcloth for your baby to chew on. Infusions of chamomile or fennel will help calm and soothe your child, while lavender oil can be added to bedding or a bath. To help numb gums, rub some diluted clove oil on them. Consult your health care provider if you have any concerns.
Co-authors Judith Lauwers and Anna Swisher suggest in "Counseling the Nursing Mother" that a breastfeeding baby who is teething may breastfeed more frequently for comfort. In addition, nursing may cause pain in some babies while they are teething and cause them to pull of frequently.
Prevention of tooth and gum issues is an integral part of dental care. Make sure that your children brush their teeth twice a day. Most parents will need to help their children brush and floss their teeth until they are old enough to efficiently do it on their own, somewhere around the age of seven or eight. When brushing teeth make sure to gently massage the gums. This helps work the plaque hidden under the gums upward and increase blood flow. The American Dental Association recommends having your children's teeth professionally cleaned regularly. In addition, you may want to avoid having your children eat sweet and gooey foods.
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