15 month old with cavity

Hi Dr. Ellie,

I am a concerned first time mom of a 15 1/2 month old boy. I have taken him to 2 dentists (first was my own and 2nd was a Periodontist). My dentist took a look at what I am assuming were caries at the time on his top 4 front teeth, most prominent on the front teeth, and quickly told me that it was caused by a fever he may have had as an infant…a high fever, even if only for a night, while the teeth were forming causing weak enamel formation and making him susceptible to bacteria/decay. The Periodontist told me it was cavities and that it was caused from breastfeeding at night and often. He gave my son a Fluoride treatment of 23,000 parts p/million painted on his teeth and said I would need this every month until he was old enough to have the cavities filled! I am concerned about fluoride to begin with and especially for such a young little person, and am in search of any natural remedy such as xylitol to help prevent the cavity from getting worse without needing to get the fluoride treatments.

Please let me know if you have any information on ways of taking care of this problem naturally…he does not have anything sugary and I am still nursing and plan to continue as I know the benefits of breastmilk out weigh any damage to teeth.

Yours kindly,

Hi JV,

Sadly, I hear stories like this from concerned and caring moms like you, almost every day.
This story is so common I feel that we mothers must band together to try and figure out the real reasons that these teeth are a problem.

I embrace the idea of breast feeding and I will NEVER tell you to stop!

What I do know, is that breast milk has lots of sugars in it this is great for baby! The problem is that these sugars also feed harmful bacteria that cause cavities. Harmful bacteria stick on teeth, feed on sugars or carbohydrates in the diet, and make acids that burn the minerals out of teeth and soften them.

The good news is that xylitol is able to take the place of sugar and is absorbed by these bacteria.
Unlike sugar, the harmful bacteria basically choke on the xylitol and so they cannot continue to make acids, and they stop damaging teeth.

The other wonderful thing that happens, is that xylitol makes these harmful bacteria unable to produce the sticky threads that attach them to teeth and help them layer into plaque. In this way being exposed to xylitol will stop the bacteria producing acids and stop them forming plaque.

This is why it is really a good idea to expose teeth to a little xylitol several times each day and the results are best if this exposure is after mealtimes. (Harmful bacteria triple in numbers at the end of a meal so get them before they reproduce!)

When bacteria are no longer sticky, it is much easier to remove them by brushing or even by wiping the teeth with a soft cloth. Spiffies.com make a baby tooth wipe from xylitol specifically to clean the mouths of babies and infants to protect them from cavities.

Xylitol is a natural way to remove harmful bacteria but it takes time to get rid of all the germs.
Usually it takes six months to rid the mouth of this cavity-forming infection. I would suggest you start as soon as possible.

If Spiffies are a bit too expensive for daily use, you can make your own cloths or make up a solution of xylitol to keep around. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of xylitol in 6oz of warm water and use this solution throughout the day after meals or before naptime. You could put it into a baby bottle or you can wipe it over the teeth depending on the way that works best for your lifestyle.

I believe only in two kinds of fluoride: dilute sodium fluoride applied to the outside of teeth (as a rinse for adults) and on a Q-tip or brush for children under 6 years old. The other good idea is fluoride varnish (applied by a dentist). If you want to apply sodium fluoride yourself, I suggest getting a bottle of ACT bubblegum fluoride from the drug store (about $5.00) and dip a q-tip or brush into this solution and wipe a drop of this solution over these damaged front teeth. Do this three times a day if possible.

It is the alternate and regular exposure to dilute sodium fluoride and xylitol that may help to actually repair these damaged teeth. I cannot tell you if you will be able to completely reverse the damage, but you will stop the problem from getting worse.

Last point: you and your family may have these harmful bacteria in your own mouths.
Cavities are spread from one person to another this is a contagious, transmissible disease spread when you kiss your child or share food with him. This fact is the same in relation to other people he interacts with.

You all should work to get rid of harmful germs in your own mouths using the same technique, or chewing or eating xylitol mints or gum at the end of meals. For a really speedy way to remove the germs from your own teeth you may want to consider my Complete Mouth care System a series of three mouth rinses used in a very specific order and with very specific toothpaste ( all available from Walgreen’s or from the www.Zellies.com website.)

Please let me know if you have any more questions.
I think you are wise to consider doing this now start as soon as possible.

I do have a question: did you use any holistic teething gels when he started teething?
I have a hunch some of these may contain acids and sorbitol a combination that could be a problem. I have no proof just talking with nursing moms.

Thanks so much I would like to help more families avoid this problem so please give me feedback to know if this advice was helpful to you.


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  • Strangfamily says:

    Hello Dr. Ellie,My 6th child is two and special needs (he has Noonan Syndrome which includes heart defect among other things). I have noticed that his front tooth is chipped and has a brown spot on the back. The dentist is watching it. I have been trying to do some of the things that you recommend (not perfectly, mind you… I am a busy wife and mother) but we do brush twice a day… use xylitol as much as I remember to and use ACT with Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. I am worried because he doesn’t get the “spitting out” part of the brushing and ACT mouth rinse. Is this too much ingestion of flouride for him? How do I use these products but not allow him to swallow anything. Meanwhile, his chipped tooth seems to be getting worse and so is the brown spot. I appreciate all that I have had time to red on your blog. Thank you,Mrs. Cynthia Strang

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