CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: THE TEETH

The tooth is made up of an outer, hard, enamel coating below which is a layer of dentine, which forms the bulk of the tooth and is a hard, elastic, yellowish white substance. This is embedded in a cement that resembles bone in structure and whose action is to anchor the tooth. The cement is attached to periosteum tissue (that covers the jaw bone). The tooth is divided into the crown (that above the gum), the neck (that at the level of the gum) and the root (which is embedded into the jaw).

CARIES

Avoidance of caries (holes in the enamel of teeth) is dependent upon good oral hygiene and dietetics. Caries are produced by trauma or because of production of acid from bacteria that exist in the mouth. This acid breaks down the hard enamel and dentine and reaches the inner pulp. It is this that causes toothache because the pulp contains the nerve fibres.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Regular brushing and cleaning of teeth is essential. A fluoride toothpaste should only be used once a day .

Good calcium intake through dairy products, meat, chicken and fish, nuts and particularly sesame seeds is required from an early age.

Chewing on raw fruit and vegetables helps to prevent caries.

Most importantly, avoid refined sugars and foods containing them.

Persistent caries, despite following the above advice, should be reviewed by a nutritionist or naturopath to assess if the saliva has lost its protective function.

Removal of the infection and sealing the hole with a non-mercury filling performed under local anaesthetic by a dentist.

See Toothache.

FILLINGS

Dental fillings can be required at any age but the risk of fillings and the potential number are both increased in childhood.

There is much controversy about the use of mercury in tooth cavity-filling substances called amalgams. At present the British Dental Association refuses to accept that mercury from fillings is a problem but most physicians associated with environmental or nutritional medicine consider mercury to be a problem .

Cavities in the teeth need to be filled with non-mercury fillings.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure six-monthly visits to the dentist and have any fillings repaired.

Prior to the visit, regardless of whether any dental work will be done, take homeopathic remedy Arnica 6 four times a day starting the day before the visit.

If fillings are known to be required insist on non-mercury fillings, and, if this is not possible, change your dentist.

If mercury fillings are in place visit a practitioner who uses a bioenergetic diagnostic device such as a Bicom or Quantum CI computer to establish whether mercury is a problem within your system. Alternatively, a red blood cell mercury level can be obtained. If toxicity is the case, then a sympathetic dentist needs to be found who will remove all amalgam fillings and replace with non-mercury composite.

FLUORIDE AND FLUOROSIS

Fluorosis is the medical term given for fluoride poisoning. Ingesting or inhaling any fluorine-containing compound is potentially lethal. Very small amounts can be handled by the body but not so well by bacteria. This is the reason why individuals in Western societies are forcibly, and without option, fed fluoride. Fluoride is placed in our water reservoirs, our processed foods and even our vitamin supplements. Most famously it is advertised as an important additive to our toothpaste. This latter addition is encouraged because of the association of decreased dental caries when fluoride was initially introduced at higher levels into our food chain.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that tooth decay diminished at the same rate in areas where water was not fluoridated. Consider the healthy teeth of young Caribbean children who have not been introduced to enforced fluoridation. One might like to note that these children often chew constantly on wild cane, which does not have the same decaying effect on the teeth that our Western refined sugar has.

The argument that fluoride destroys bad bacteria is correct but unfortunately it is not specific and it creates considerable damage to our own beneficial bacteria. The amounts that are forced upon us do not take into account the levels of fluoride that we take in through our food, and therefore potentially toxic levels of fluoride may affect all of us. Some individuals have a specific allergy or an over-sensitivity to fluoride and they are particularly susceptible to conditions such as fluorosis of the teeth or bones, causing increased caries or tendency to fracture. Fluoride has also been noted (and the information suppressed by the big businesses that provide fluoride and introduce it into our food chain, such as food manufacturers and water suppliers) to cause biochemical changes in the body, birth defects and cancer.

Toxic levels may be created by taking in water that contains ten parts of fluoride per million parts of water. The recommended dosage for ‘good dental health’ is four parts per million. A fractional error in contaminating our water supply may lead to poisoning and no mention is made of those people who may have a higher level of fluoride in their diet from such foods as tea, seafood, some meats and green vegetables. Children often enjoy the taste of toothpaste and swallow it, and many vitamins may have fluoride as part of their constituents.

It should be noted that few areas in the UK have the water supply fluoridated but it is worth asking about your area.

RECOMMENDATIONS

An individual who has a well-balanced diet including seafood and tea, and who uses fluoride-containing toothpaste should have a reverse-osmosis water filter installed to remove the excessive fluoride from tap water.

An occasional drink of tap water will quite adequately provide the flouride we need.

Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste once a day only.

Ensure good exercise to maintain bone density strength.

Consider a bi-yearly use of the homeopathic remedy Fluoricum acidum 200 (one dose) to encourage the body to fight against excess fluoride.

GRINDING TEETH (BRUXISM)

Teeth grinding occurs for two reasons, neither of which are confined to childhood but it is most frequently noticed at this age. This predisposition most commonly occurs in those under stress. The masseter (jaw) muscles are very sensitive to stress, as is shown by the obvious clenching of those who are concentrating or are angry. Most frequently this occurs at night.

The second reason is not well supported by scientific evidence but is anecdotally accepted as a possible calcium deficiency. The body is aware of the calcium levels in the teeth and tries to make it available by grinding. Most commonly this occurs in children rather than adults and during sleep rather than whilst awake. Teeth grinding can be associated with threadworms and any symptoms such as an itching anus or excessive appetite with no weight gain should be noted.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Establish any emotional causes and deal with them appropriately. Basic counselling may be most beneficial.

Add in a calcium supplement or take sesame seeds and dairy products, provided that there is no allergic or intolerant association.

The homeopathic remedy Arsenicum album 6, four pills before bed, can be most effective. Also refer to the remedies Zinc, Phytolacca, Calcarea phosphorica and Silica.

If bruxism is associated with threadworms, use the homeopathic remedy Cinchona 6.

Use chelated zinc (3mg per foot of height) before bedtime.

A consultation with a cranial osteopath may relieve tension in the jaw muscles.

A dentist’s opinion may be required if grinding is persistent and may suggest a protective cover put on at night to prevent wearing down the teeth.

If the tendency is persistent please review the individual case with a complementary medical practitioner.

ORAL HYGIENE

It is best to start an infant’s oral hygiene as early as possible. A small gauze pad or soft cloth should be wrapped around your finger, moistened and used to massage the gums. This helps teeth break through and gets the baby used to teeth cleaning.

Infants should not have fatty foods or refined sugars introduced to their diet. In fact it is quite feasible to avoid artificial sweeteners until the child attends the home of a less conscientious parent which may not be until the age of two or three years. Refined sugars encourage bacterial growth and if a sweet food is ingested a gentle gum or teeth rub with chamomile tea will encourage salivation and wash the sugars out.

PLAQUE AND TARTAR

Plaque is a collection of bacteria that adheres to the enamel of teeth and tartar is a build-up of a calcium compound that itself adheres to teeth. The plaque lives within tartar and slowly, but relentlessly, eats away at the gum, encouraging infection, tooth decay and loss of teeth.

RECOMMENDAT

Proper dental hygiene and regular de-scaling by a dental hygienist is essential.

Using specialized brushes that get between the teeth or dental floss is good hygienic practice. This is even better if started at a young age before gaps clearly form between the teeth where food can stick and encourage bacterial growth.

SENSITIVE TEETH

Sensitivity to hot or cold is a common manifestation and is generally caused by the exposure of nerves in the gum or the pulp of the tooth.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure that general care is taken as advised above to avoid tooth or gum damage.

Regular dental check-ups (at least every six months) and specific attention to a sensitive area may seal the exposed nerves.

Application of clove oil directly onto the area by dipping a cotton bud into the essential oil may help. Be careful not to allow too much clove oil onto the area because this will irritate the tongue. Application twice a day over a period of ten days will, potentially, numb the nerve permanently.

The homeopathic remedy Natrum muriaticum 6 can be taken four times a day. Sensitivity to cold may respond better to Silica 6, four times a day.

TEETH DISCOLOURATION

The overuse of fluoride through toothpaste, water and tablets was a common factor, especially in the children of dentists, 30 years ago. Nowadays fluoridation is controlled and this mottled appearance is no longer seen commonly. The same effect may be produced by the use of tetracyclines (aggressive antibiotics). Smoking, chewing tobacco and excessive ingestion of red wine (not all that common in young children!) may stain teeth at an older age.

The most common cause of discolouration is the yellowing that occurs from teeth that are not cleaned. Certain infections may cause a grey white patchy discolouration, the most common of which are whooping cough and measles.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Ensure that regular cleaning takes place.

Regular visits to the dentist or the dental hygienist for removal of debris will benefit.

The discolouration from infection may be removed by using the nosodes (homeopathic remedies made from the causative agent) Pertussin for whooping cough and Morbillinum for whooping cough and measles respectively. Use potency 6 or 12 twice a day for one week.

TEETHING

Teething is a term that describes the arrival of the milk teeth (the first set of teeth) in an infant. This usually occurs anywhere from before birth to the age of three years. Typically the first tooth will arrive at around six to eight months and the full set will be exposed around the 30-month mark. The breaking of the gum is a painful experience and it is not surprising that infants are often inconsolable as they go through this period. There is usually marked excessive salivation and, less frequently, a red rash that resembles the aftereffects of a smack around one or both cheeks. A fever may be noted, either by the child feeling hot or by a thermometer, and a general malaise or lethargy may be observed. Diarrhoea is often associated.

Gently feel the gums for protrusions and, if possible, look for any redness or swelling. If there is no evidence of teething, do not assume that any symptoms are due to teething, but consider other possible problems.

A teething fever is generally mild. A temperature over 100°F (38°C) is unlikely to be caused by teething.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Give the child something hard to chew on, preferably a carrot or a piece of apple but otherwise an artificial ‘teether’. The colder these objects are, the more relieving it will be.

Gentle massage around the jaw may reduce inflammation.

The use of the homeopathic remedy Chamomilla 6, one dose every half-hour if the child is particularly upset, otherwise twice a day throughout the period of teething.

Do not hesitate to use a childhood antipyretic (anti-fever) if the child is not sleeping.

Two drops of clove oil in eight drops of olive oil applied to a ruptured gum is very soothing. Test it on your own tongue. It should tingle, not burn. Dilute with more olive oil if necessary.

Catnip, lime flowers or chamomile teas throughout the day can be very soothing.

TOOTHACHE AND DENTAL PAIN

Toothache is either created by exposure of nerves in the gum or the pulp of the tooth. Cleansing and debriding (removing) of tartar and plaque is essential to remove the base of the bacterial infection that has produced the acid that has decayed the area.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Visit a dentist at the earliest opportunity to cleanse the area and isolate the inflamed nerves.

The remedies Arnica 6 or Hypericum 6 may be taken every half-hour if the discomfort is bad, before the dentist is seen. Prepare a mouthwash from a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of Arnica fluid extract. Force this through the teeth at a temperature that is soothing or comfortable.

The application of clove oil via a cotton bud dipped in the essential oil and applied just to the sensitive area. Do not use too much clove oil because this will cause stinging of the surrounding tissue.

Please refer to your preferred homeopathic manual for a more suitable remedy based on the type of toothache, the site and its sensitivities. A persistent toothache may be associated with sinusitis or an osteopathic lesion in the neck or jaw that may be pinching the trunk of the nerves supplying the jaw. An osteopath may be very effective.

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