Recently I spent a Monday morning in surgery, repairing and rebuilding the teeth of a three year-old. Sixteen teeth. The week before I had to rebuild 18 teeth on a two year-old. Eighteen teeth!
How do I do this?
I have to grind out all the decay and often times the cavity has reached all the way to the nerve so the center of the tooth is oozing blood. I then have to carefully remove the infected insides and fill with very expensive putty-like stuffing. At that point the tooth looks like a tiny white stump. If it’s a tooth in the back of the mouth, I’ll cover it with a pre-formed tooth made out of stainless steel. If it’s a front tooth I’ll use a softer mold, fill it with liquid plastic then form it into the shape of a tooth.
And all this is done on a child only three years old.
How did this happen? Fruit juice and sippy cups.
And I’m not kidding. Look I’m not a fan of giving your kid processed fruit juices, even the ones that say “Made with 100% real fruit.” And especially with sippy cups. Those things are just sugar injectors because babies tend to treat them as pacifiers and they supply a steady stream of cheap sugar right onto the teeth. We all know babies drool but all that spit, slobber, and all that slobber is trying to neutralize the sugar and acid from whatever your baby’s had to eat or drink. But it also takes like 30 minutes to start working and if your baby constantly has a sippy cup in their hands, well, the battle could already be lost.
And pasteurized fruit juices might as well be cotton candy. They have little nutritional value and the natural vitamins inherent in the fruit have been cooked out in the pasteurization process so in many cases, vitamins are added back in. I know, I know…those labels read “No Added Sugar” or “100% Fruit Juice.” But read the ingredients and you’ll see fruit juice concentrates are the sweeteners:
APPLE JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (WATER, JUICE CONCENTRATE), PEAR JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (WATER, JUICE CONCENTRATE), PEACH JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (WATER, JUICE CONCENTRATE), ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C)
Apple juice concentrate, as you can imagine, is a very thick substance and the manufacturers will add water and pasteurized concentrate then give it a good shake and off it goes to the kid’s section of your local grocery store then into that sippy cup. And a year later Mom and Dad are shaking their heads wondering how their two or three year-old can have so many rotten teeth.
Hey my kids drink this stuff, too but they’ve also heard so many of my horror stories that they don’t over indulge on it. So here’s what I think you should do.
If your kids are very young, give them water in that sippy cup. If you’re going to give them those fancy fruit juices, do so only in small quantities and don’t put it in a sippy cup. Or if you do give it to them in that sippy cup, don’t let them wander off with the juice, and please do not send them to bed with sweet juice or any sweet beverage or a bottle of formula. That just gives the sugar plenty of time to cause decay. It’s okay for them to have a little juice but give them the juice but give them a water chaser afterwards.
And personally I think fresh oranges are quite sweet enough by themselves.
Not sure how to clean your baby’s teeth? Wrap your forefinger in a little bit of gauze and carefully wipe their teeth. A thin layer of Johnson & Johnson gauze is all you need.
And if your kids are older, please make sure they’re brushing their teeth at least twice a day. When your kids can pay for their own dental check-ups, that’s when you can quit checking behind them.
And for those of you looking for a great pediatric dentist, give us a call or stop in for a visit. We’re always happy to give you a free consultation.