Frequent Questions Parents Ask Holistic Dentist, Dr. Mark Breiner of Whole Body Dentistry
May 01, 2012 11:34AM
From the moment your baby’s first teeth erupt, they need to be cared for. At every stage of a child’s growth, good oral hygiene can and should be encouraged. However, given that children’s physical systems are more vital and reactive than those of adults, you need to be especially prudent about the dental decisions you make for them. These dental choices can have an impact for years to come.
Dr. Mark Breiner has been seeing both children and their parents in his holistic dental practice for over 30 years. In his new book, Whole-Body Dentistry®: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health, he stresses the importance of using the safest possible treatment approaches for both children and adults. Increasing numbers of parents are seeking holistic approaches for their children’s dental care. Below, Dr. Breiner responds to a number of questions that parents have repeatedly asked him.
My child’s first teeth are coming in decayed…why?
When a baby falls asleep at the mother’s breast or with a bottle still in his or her mouth, the emerging baby teeth are being continuously bathed in the milk sugar and are thus susceptible to decay. It has also been my observation that decay occurs more frequently in babies whose mother is a vegetarian and is breast-feeding. Last but not least, some children are just more susceptible to tooth decay. Homeopathic treatment which addresses the whole system can be of significant benefit.
Since my child’s baby teeth are going to fall out, do I even have to be concerned about treating decay?
Yes, the decay can progress to the point of producing a toothache and an abscess, conditions which may necessitate the extraction of a tooth. Under ideal circumstances your child’s front teeth will be in place until six to seven years of age, and these teeth are very important for proper speech development. The baby molars are normally retained until ten to thirteen years of age. If these are lost prematurely, the permanent molars will come in and move forward, blocking the space needed for the permanent teeth. This situation will necessitate orthodontics.
My child’s permanent front teeth are coming in with white spots. Why is this happening?
White spots on permanent teeth are almost always the result of ingesting too much fluoride. Studies have shown that 30-40% of children today have this problem. These spots form because fluoride interferes with collagen production. Fluoride can have additional negative systemic ramifications.
At what age should I start bringing my child to the dentist?
A good time to bring your child to the dentist’s office is at three years of age. Your child can see the hygienist for tooth polishing; he or she may also ride in the chair and squirt the water, to make it a fun experience. Of course, if you suspect any problems prior to that time, you should immediately bring your child to the dentist.
How do I care for my toddler’s teeth?
When the teeth first come in (usually at 6 to 9 months of age) wiping the teeth with a washcloth or gauze pad is sufficient. As the child gets older and permits it, use a small toothbrush with soft bristles and dental floss.
The dentist said my child will need braces. Should I wait until all the permanent teeth are in place?
No. Often there is not enough room for permanent teeth or there is a structural problem in the way the lower jaw meets the upper jaw. It is best to begin to address these situations at an early age, when the first permanent molars have erupted. Consult with an orthodontist and let the orthodontist determine the ideal time to start treatment; that time is almost always before all the permanent teeth are in.
My child is highly allergic. Do I have to be concerned about the materials used in orthodontics?
Yes. Often the orthodontic metals are nickel-based. Ten percent of the population is reactive to nickel. Today there are alternatives to using nickel. If your child has experienced more colds or a decline in health while wearing braces, he or she may be reactive to the dental materials used.
My child has a cavity, should I be concerned about materials being used to restore the teeth?
Yes. Never let a dentist place a “silver” filling in your child’s teeth. These fillings are half mercury, and mercury is dangerous. Ask your dentist to use a tooth-colored composite filling.
My dentist wants to take X-rays of my child’s teeth, is this a good idea?
No one likes to have X-rays taken. As with everything in dentistry, one must evaluate the benefits and risks. The main reason for X-rays in young children is to check for decay between the teeth. Often transillumination with a bright light will reveal decay between the baby teeth and X-rays can be avoided. If one suspects decay, it is better to take an X-ray than to end up with a toothache. When all the permanent teeth are in, transillumination does not work well on the back teeth; for those, X-rays are a good idea. In trying to limit radiation exposure in adults and youngsters, I base the frequency of taking X-rays upon the child’s previous history of decay. Digital X-rays keep radiation to a minimum.
My dentist wants to apply sealants to my child’s teeth, is this necessary?
Because deep grooves in the molar teeth very often become decayed, filling these grooves will prevent this from happening. A dental sealant is a liquid composite that flows into the grooves and is then hardened with a high intensity light. Prior to applying a sealant, it is important to check for decay in the grooves. There are electronic dental instruments that detect decay and should be used prior to placing the sealant. I think it is unnecessary to seal teeth that do not have deep grooves. I prefer placing tiny composite fillings in deep grooves, as sealants are often lost and begin to leak with time. These problems rarely occur when tiny composite restorations are used.
When alternative holistic dental approaches are combined with solid traditional dentistry, the outcome is one that optimizes each patient’s health and wellbeing. It is a win-win formula!
Dr. Breiner practices dentistry in Trumbull, CT. He is a Fellow of The International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry, a Diplomate of the College of Dentistry, American Association of Integrative Medicine, and author of Whole-Body Dentistry®: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health. Visit WholeBodyDentistry.com for information/free on-line newsletter.