These days, dental health for kids is all about HYGIENE, HYGIENE, HYGIENE. While there's nothing wrong with using a toothbrush, we tend to take care of hygiene and then assume everything else – braces, cavities, and root canals – are just part of life and a result of genetics.
Check your kid's water
A hot topic these days is fluoride, especially in pediatric circles.
Personally, I shudder at the reality of our cities making this decision for us by fluoridating our water. Not cool.
Toothpaste for kids too young to not swallow should always be fluoride-free, which gets you thinking…if fluoride isn't good for kids to swallow, why put it in our bodies at all?
If want to learn more about fluoride to make smart decisions for your family, read this post that explores the topic in detail.
Good food makes good teeth
Beyond avoiding sugar and processed carbs, a nutrient dense diet plays a huge role in the health of teeth and gums as well as the formation of a proper palate and bite in early childhood.
In fact, there have been many isolated cultures throughout the world that never even saw a toothbrush, but had perfect, straight teeth, wide palates, and very little decay.
Their secret? These people all ate nutrient dense foods and avoided modernized foods. Food alone has the power to bestow a balanced constitution, excellent health, and perfect teeth.
Chinese medicine provides us with an insight as to how teeth are part of a bigger picture of our whole body – when the body is in balance and full of vitality, teeth will not decay or disease.
So even if you don't live on a remote island and eat food that you've scooped out of the pristine sea, you and your children can still take steps to care for your pearly whites.
Chinese medicine and your kid's teeth
In the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) model, the Kidney and Spleen systems are the 2 most relevant components to good oral health.
The kidney system
Teeth (like bones) are an extension of the Kidney meridian/system. The Kidney system includes the kidneys; urinary, reproductive, and adrenal systems, bones and teeth. The Kidney system most closely correlates to genetics as well, referring to inherited qualities as “pre-heaven Jing.”
Dental problems related to the Kidney system can be challenging to treat, but not impossible, especially since children are extremely receptive to healing.
As an added bonus, you'll be lessening your child's likelihood of issues revolving around an aging body – like infertility, adrenal fatigue, autoimmune conditions, low back pain, urinary incontinence and more.
With Kidney deficiency, there may be a history of dental issues in the family or your child may be experiencing problems with her teeth without clear hygiene-related cause.
If she's potty trained, are there bedwetting issues? Has she had any broken bones? Are there issues surrounding the emotion of fear? Was mom unwell during or before pregnancy? Was your child conceived at a “late” maternal age?
While acupuncture treatments can guide your child's healing, herbal medicine and supplements will probably be the most effective treatments for Kidney deficiency. If you're looking for remedies in food, try feeding your little one roasted bone marrow every so often and make bone broth the norm.
The spleen system
The Spleen system, which includes the stomach, pancreas, and actual spleen organs, is largely responsible for digestive health. The food we eat is known as “post-heaven Jing,” as it nourishes us after birth and influences our state of well-being.
Supporting Spleen/digestive health is relatively easy: Avoid refined sugar, processed flours, and anything with artificial color, flavors, preservatives, or other ingredients.
Choose a variety of fresh, nourishing foods. Especially bland, starchy foods – like dry varieties of sweet potato, winter squash, and properly prepared grains.
And make sure you work in a good probiotic.
For more comprehensive support, a complete panel can be done by a good nutritionist or any practitioner specializing in Functional Medicine. These tests can detect levels of vitamins and minerals that may be missing from your child's diet such as vitamins D and A, calcium, phosphorus, and others.
The Stomach Meridian (which pairs with the Spleen system) also controls digestion and rules the gums. Gingivitis or other gum disease may be related to a diagnosis of Heat in the Stomach. Usually this can easily be rectified with acupuncture, herbs, and dietary modifications.
The perks of Chinese Medicine are that it emphasizes the whole person. Which means there's a lot you can do beyond scraping plaque and giving your kid a pea-sized ball of fluoride toothpaste.
What have you done to support your kid's dental health?
Share in the comments below!