The new mother has been said to be the most worrisome creature on the face of the planet. The new mother probably started her long research quest to become the expert on everything about her baby long before she even knew that she was pregnant. The research list probably included what types of foods were best, whether making your own baby food or purchasing it was best, to breastfeed, or not to breastfeed, and a myriad of medical information, just so that she would be ready for her most precious new arrival. She probably consulted a number of friends and wise family members to get their opinions on these topics and spent long hours on Internet.
However, the one topic that probably did not come up was which dental products to choose. This was not an oversight on her part; it was just that until recently, there were few alternatives to the long aisles of modern toothpaste. Well, times have changed and there are greener alternatives to your babyÛªs dental care, but how do they stack up to time-tested fluoride toothpaste?
Brushing and flossing are just as important for primary teeth as for adult teeth. This helps children establish good oral hygiene habits early on. Many people do not realize that fluoride, derived from natural fluorine, is the thirteenth most common element on earth (Gavin, 2008). It is found naturally in water sources, and in some cities, the naturally occurring fluoride level is boosted through water treatments. Promoters of fluoridation claim that fluoride can help stop the early stages of tooth decay. However, opponents question its safety and effectiveness. Evidence is mixed on both sides of the controversy.
According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), children under 2 years old should not use fluoride toothpaste, unless instructed by a dentist. Children younger than six many swallow too much toothpaste until they are old enough to rinse and spit properly. The same applies to mouth rinses as well. These are not designed to be ingested. Other alternatives to fluoride toothpaste are now available; letÛªs explore some of the options.
Be Well Stay Well (http://www.bewellstaywell.com/oral_care.htm#REAL) has a number of natural oral products designed specifically for children and adults who wish to avoid fluoride. They provide complete information about the development of the products, recommendations by dentists, and a complete list of ingredients. One of the more interesting products that they offer is pear wood, natural boar bristle toothbrushes. This site is an excellent resource for information on the natural options available in natural oral care.
Natural Health Organics (http://www.naturalhealthorganics.com.au/Oral-Care-c-128.html) makes a line of natural products that are made from plant materials and other natural extracts. Ecodent (http://eco-dent.com/resqdent.cfm) offers a baking soda based line of products. For those of you who are do-it-yourselfers, Herbal Diary (http://www.herbaldiary.org/Natural-Beauty/Natural_oral_care.html) offers a list of recipes for herbal-based oral products. These are only a few of the websites and products that can be found. If you are the sticks and roots type, several websites even have recommendations as to which twigs are best at cleaning your teeth. The number of natural dental care products available is overwhelming. This has obviously been an area of great interest lately.
LetÛªs get back to the basic question; do they work as well as traditional products? The answer to the question may not be as easy as it would seem. In preparation for this research, I tried to contact a number of dentists about the issue. Those that would give their opinion admitted that they were only familiar with modern brands. Many were not aware that natural alternatives even existed. Those that make the products claim that they are as effective as modern brands. However, the real truth of the matter is that the jury is still out. The most obvious finding that came from this informal survey is that dentists need to be educated about these new product alternatives so that they can make wise recommendations to their patients.
At this point in time, natural dental care alternatives are so new on the market that dentists have not had the time to form and opinion about them. I could find no academic studies that supported either side of the argument either. Therefore, Moms, it is up to you to do the research. The responsibility of Moms in this case is two-fold, they must learn about products themselves and they must inform their dentists about what they have found. Hopefully, in the near future, more information on their effectiveness will become available, but until that time, Moms will just have to decide for themselves which products are best for their baby.