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Ask The Green Mama: My child has cavities, why and now what?

I eat well, take my kids to a naturopath, and make them brush and floss everyday. Yet, both my kids have cavities: loads of them. To make matters worse, all of the dentists that I have visited want to put amalgam fillings in their mouth. Help!

Confused in Vancouver

I can feel your pain. I, too, have felt that I have done everything “right” on the diet front and yet my children have also had cavities from a young age. To make matters worse, even after doing a ton of research on the dangers of phthalates in dental sealants, I had a dentist in Vancouver put them in one of my daughter’s mouths without permission. She now has 1,000 worth of cavities around those sealants. Whether or not sealants are worth the BPA exposure and protect or cause cavities is just one of the things modern dentistry doesn’t agree upon.

The world of dentistry is a confusing one where it seems dentists themselves disagree on all sorts of things that would seem obvious: like what is causing the current epidemic in childhood cavities and how important the role of diet is and whether flouride is a cure-all or not worth the side-effects and, even, whether or not to fill cavities on baby teeth. Indeed, there is disagreement on whether or not the known neurotoxin mercury should be used in children’s fillings or not.  In interviews I recently did for an article on this subject for EcoParent Magazine, Dr. Michael Schecter, a young dentist with a more holistic practice in Toronto, says that in dental school it is still the standard to ONLY use mercury amalgam fillings in a child’s mouth, despite significant evidence that mercury escapes into the mouth and body of those with the fillings. Even Health Canada cautions against use in pregnancy and childhood, although most of Europe has banned or issued much stronger warnings against mercury fillings during these times.

Diet, according to all the holistic dentists I spoke with, seems to be the key to dental health. What that means, however, is at the very least complicated and sometimes seems impossible. To get a better sense of what I mean, I recommend an article I wrote on the subject (the one mentioned above): Children and Cavities 101: Diet, the Dentist, and the Cavity Epidemic

To better understand the complicated world of dental health and it’s connection to overall health, I’d recommend the work of Weston A Price. I’d also recommend owning three books:

More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free by Roger W. Lucas, DDS ; Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats by Sally Morrell Fallon and Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, 2nd Edition (You can follow any of those book links to do a little affiliate shopping on Amazon.)

Before buying,  you can learn a lot in my book review of More Chocolate, No Cavities. He breaks the diet aspect of the no-cavity diet into something very simple and achievable. He also reminds parents that cavities are caused by starchy or sugary foods being eaten by mouth bacteria which turn the foods into lactic acid. This acid when left on the teeth eat away–or demineralize–the teeth. Sipping on juices or even milk or nibbling snacks–especially sweet ones, sticky ones, or anything at all starchy like a cracker or breakfast cereal–will destroy you and your child’s teeth and fast. He says you can give up flossing if you can truly remove all of these foods from your diet.

For additional reading, articles, research, and healthier products for your home care start with the Children and Cavities 101 article.