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My, What Fine Teeth You Have!

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Keeping kids' teeth healthy requires more than brushing and flossing twice a da.

Keeping kids' teeth healthy requires more than brushing and flossing twice a day. Optimal nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are equally important when it comes to ensuring that your child's teeth grow strong and straight and remain free of decay.

The best time to start working towards a healthy set of teeth for your little one is before and during pregnancy. Your baby's teeth begin to form in utero, although they don't fully develop until they start pushing through the gums between seven and 12 months of age. A mother's nutrition during the months of tooth formation can greatly influence the health of her baby's teeth.

These primary (baby) teeth are in a sense "temporary" because they are replaced by the permanent teeth, but their role in determining the health of future permanent teeth should not be underestimated. Primary teeth encourage the normal development of jaw bones and muscles, and ensure that there is space for the permanent teeth to grow into. They also help guide those teeth into position. The healthier your child's baby teeth are, the stronger their permanent teeth will be!

Most kids start losing their primary teeth between the ages of six and eight, but some baby teeth stay in the mouth until age 12. The permanent teeth help to push the primary teeth out and then take their place. Tooth formation is thus an ongoing process from before birth until well into the teenage years. A nutritious diet along with high-quality supplements during these years sets the stage for dental health both in childhood and throughout adulthood.

Dental-Friendly Diet

The most important nutrient for strong teeth is calcium. It's found in green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, dried beans, almonds, sesame seeds, seaweeds and some root vegetables, especially carrots grown in organic, mineral-rich soil.

Dairy foods are also a good source of calcium, but they can be difficult to digest because of mandatory pasteurization, which destroys enzymes. Fermented whole dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk and kefir are easier to digest and are especially recommended because their lactic acid content promotes calcium uptake in the small intestine. [The]

It's also important to know that magnesium and vitamin D are required for calcium to be properly assimilated in the body. Magnesium is found in chlorophyll-rich green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, honey, molasses, dates and nuts, especially almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts. Kelp and other seaweeds are also good sources.

Vitamin D is produced in the body through the interaction of sunlight with certain chemicals in the skin's fatty tissue. Food sources of vitamin D are eggs and dairy products. When sunlight exposure is limited, especially during the winter months, it's often difficult to get adequate vitamin D from diet alone and a supplement is necessary. The best way to ensure that your little one gets calcium, magnesium and vitamin D in optimal doses and ratios is a supplement that combines all three nutrients.

Healthy Teeth for Life

Even after your child's teeth are fully developed, good nutrition plays an important role in keeping them strong and healthy. A diet of natural whole foods helps to ensure a healthy mouth flora, which protects against the acids that cause tooth decay and foods rich in vitamin C help to protect gums against periodontal disease such as gingivitis.

Avoid refined sugars and candies of all kinds! Not only do they increase acids locally in the mouth, but they also undermine tooth health by interfering with the assimilation of minerals in the body. Unpasteurized honey may be the safest sweetener when it comes to tooth health: new research shows that honey prevents the growth of dental plaque bacteria believed to be responsible for dental caries.

Smile, You'll Like it!

A bright, healthy smile is guaranteed to be noticed. To give power to your family's grins, try these simple home-care tips.

  • Avoid toothpastes with fluoride, a toxic additive. Children will swallow. There are herbal and homeopathic brands containing ingredients such as myrrh, natural oils, licorice, sea salt and neem.
  • Brush with baking soda and water.
  • Eat an apple. Apples require chewing, which forces your teeth into stimulating action. The malic acid content cleanses the teeth.
  • Aloe vera gel applied directly can soothe irritated gums.
  • Rub tea tree oil on gums to help prevent and treat gum disease. Or gargle with a mouthwash containing three to six drops of tea tree oil per ounce of mouthwash, but don't swallow. Tea tree oil shouldn't be taken internally.
  • Clean your toothbrush regularly by soaking it hydrogen peroxide, diluted citrus extract, salt water or another non-toxic bacteria killer.
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