Posted by Dentis Imus Cavite
Want to get all the wrong facts about your kids’ teeth? You will, if you only rely on Facebook and old wives’ tales for information. “There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s inaccurate—they’re just ads, or have eye-catching titles, but nothing in the way of accurate info,” bemoans Joycelyn Frances R. Lara-Esguerra, DMD, a dentist and former President of the Philippine Dental Association, Mandaluyong City Chapter.
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There are a lot of tooth myths floating around, and not enough people asking dentists about them: to get the real facts, “Ask your dentist!” says Esguerra, who’s also the expert on dental care in the Nurture Network website. “The facts we get sometimes are exaggerated. But the dentist knows—they’re the ones who are knowledgeable about the facts of kids’ teeth.” Esguerra took the time to take the most common myths about teeth and drill holes in them for our benefit.
1. Teething causes diarrhea
Diarrhea does often follow a teething episode, but Esguerra says there’s no direct link between the two. It’s not the erupting teeth that cause diarrhea—it’s what the babies put in their mouth to relieve the pain.
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“The reason is, babies always suck their fingers—whatever they hold, also, they put in their mouth. Their fingers are dirty, or the objects are dirty, but they put them in their mouth. That’s what causes the diarrhea—it’s the germs that go into the digestive system.”
The solution is straightforward: “Just make sure that the rubber teethers or anything around the baby is clean,” she explains. “Simple as that.”
2. Rub butter on baby’s gums
Butter, or any other foreign substance for that matter, won’t ease the teething pain as well as a nice, chilly rubber teether. “The trick there is to freeze it—and that’s what the child can bite, they’ll feel relief because it’s so cold,” says Esguerra. “At the same time, you don’t need to put anything on it—the cold does all the soothing.”
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3. Fluoride is bad for babies
The risk of dental fluorosis is remote if toothpaste is the only exposure to fluoride a baby gets. “We advise you use only a small amount of toothpaste. Pea-sized bit, and that’s already for adults!” Even at such a young age, kids need all the help they can get–toddlers can get cavities from their usual nursing habits, “what we call milk-bottle caries,” explains Esguerra.
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Apart from regular brushing, dentist intervention can help prevent toddler-age cavities: “We use a fluoride varnish to coat the baby teeth,” says Esguerra. “Babies can’t brush their teeth, so the varnish is the best preventive solution.”
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4. Brush three times a day
It’s not completely wrong—if you can brush after every meal, that’s a good thing—but Esguerra says three times a day is not the absolute minimum. After all, over-brushing can be a problem too: “Your tooth enamel is thin, it will be abraded by anything that scrapes it too hard, like hard toothbrushes or prophylaxis.”
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The barest minimum, says Esguerra, is “brush daily, night and day.” So, once in the morning and once before bed will do just as well for your child’s teeth without exposing them to unnecessary abrasion that can wear off their tooth enamel before its time.
5. Only sugar causes tooth decay
Also in the not-completely-wrong department: the role of sugar in tooth decay. “Not just sweet things, but anything that’s left on the teeth that doesn’t get removed by brushing can cause tooth decay,” Esguerra explains. Sugar is an easy target, as kids love candy, and sugar most easily ferments into the acid that destroys tooth enamel. But abstaining from sugar won’t necessarily prevent tooth decay from happening, if good dental hygiene isn’t practiced in the first place.
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