Dear Dr. Ellie,
I found your blog and was really hoping you could help us. We have a 19 month old daughter with ECC. I took her to the dentist when I noticed brown spots on the back of two of her front incisors. She also had gray-ish spots and white de-mineralization on the front of her front two incisors. The dentist said that the gray spots were not of concern but that the brown spots needed further treatment and gave us a referral to a pediatric dentist associated with his office. I promptly set up a visit for her. The pediatric dentist diagnosed her with ECC, but did not tell me a severity, and wants to put my daughter under general anesthetic to drill and fill them. She wants to do all four top incisors and said that the gray spots were also cavities.
This is when I started to become concerned. The pediatric dentist only saw my daughter for that one short visit, about 10 minutes, and the surgery is the only treatment plan she suggested with one follow up visit 6 wks after the surgery. Nothing else. I proposed the idea of xylitol and she did say that it has been shown to be good for oral health but will not help my daughters current situation. I can’t help but feel that this dentist is treating the symptoms but not the underlying cause of the ECC. I have already paid the $1000 bill and set up the surgery but I feel as though this will end up being wasted money as the dentist isn’t attempting to treat the cause of the ECC and my daughter will most likely end up getting more cavities for us to fill as a result.
I have started the treatment plan I read on your blog. I give my daughter a sippy cup of Z-water 3-5 times a day and brush her teeth with a Z-water solution twice a day. I also plan on getting the ACT and using a drop on her brush twice a day. The two brown spots on the back of her teeth are into the dentin I believe and the worse of the two has started to turn dark brown in the middle. I assume this may mean it’s gotten close to the nerve? The other brown spot is small. The two gray spots on the front of her other two teeth do not appear to have breached the enamel yet, though I’m no oral professional. I can see further de-mineralization taking place on several other teeth, including molars. I would like to stop it before it requires fillings but I have not received any support from our current dentist. I would like to attempt and halt further decay and heal her teeth without the surgery but, in my current position, I feel that I do not have the support or the knowledge to help her teeth from getting worse.
We are a very health conscious family. I take special care to research and prepare the healthiest of diets I’ve found. We eat all Organic, made from scratch foods, limited meats (chicken, bison and fish are what we do eat on occasion), no dairy (family dairy protein allergy, we drink Almond Milk as a healthy alternative) and very little sugars. I have breastfed all of my three daughters in the same manner. My oldest two have perfect dental health, get their teeth cleaned twice a year (starting at age 3) but we do avoid fluoride as much as possible (though I don’t mind a fluoride rinse that is spit out). The biggest difference I’ve seen between my older two and my youngest is that my older two drool when they sleep and my youngest breathes through her mouth, which gets dry. My husband and I have also never had a single cavity (and also do not breathe through our mouths when we sleep), avoid fluoride and I’m a vegetarian. Our toothbrushes are stored out of the bathroom. My children brush with Toms of Maine toothpaste (unfluoridated but I do have the fluoridated version now that my youngest has ECC). My husband and I use a homemade toothpaste made of coconut oil, baking soda and xylitol or a tooth powder of prickly ash bark, sea salt and baking soda. We all brush twice a day.
I’m not sure what to do from here. I am considering canceling the surgery and seeking a 2nd opinion and a dentist that will set up a more “whole person” approach to treating her ECC. Can you give us any advice on our current situation? If I cancel the surgery is it possible to stop the progression of the ECC and heal the current cavities, which seem mild to moderate in my opinion?
Worried MN Momma
I appreciate your situation – but I cannot diagnose nor can I professionally comment on the dental advice you have already been given.
My book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye was dedicated to a young child who died having sedation in a dental office.
You can look up more about this under the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation – and see that this tragedy occurs in dental offices every year.
For this reason I think that sedation should be a last option
Sometimes we need sedation and emergency treatments to prevent serious infection (that would be if and when all other options have proven to be hopeless).
I feel today there are many ways to stop dental infection. This is a disease – bacterial in nature.
I suggest the Z-water as you are doing – but I would definitely stop using any product that contains baking soda.
Baking soda works against you – it cleans teeth so powerfully -it stops the formation of a healthy protective film over teeth.
Your daughter may need probiotics – either naturally derived from fermented foods or in the form of a supplement.
I am glad you recognize that it is the combined use of a dilute fluoride with xylitol that can repair your daughter’s teeth.
For more information about fluoride – I have a chapter in my book to explain why a tiny amount is great as a topical application – but other uses (in our water and as supplements and gels) are not.
Your entire family and anyone that interacts daily with your daughter daily should be on a xylitol program.
I would expect the caries ( ECC) disease to stop within a month and repairs will start after the disease has gone.
You may need to wait about 3 or 4 months for healing that is visible to the eye.
If your daughter has no pain from hot or cold foods – this is a sign that you should be able to wait.
Put the risks against the benefits: think of the options side by side on a piece of paper.
Now ask yourself what is the worst that can happen?
Possibly you wait and after 4 months your daughter will still need sedation and fillings? (or not)
My belief is that the longer we delay – the better.
We may find the cavities can heal – or at worst, the child is older and more cooperative (more able to have the treatment without sedation).
If you wait a while – providing there is no pain from these teeth -make sure you keep up on the preventive system day after day.
Spiffies tooth wipes can also make cleaning your toddler’s teeth a little easier if you are busy or traveling.
– use these in addition to the Z-water drink. I have a grandchild about the same age. I would not want her to have sedation.
By the way the title ECC is given to ANY decay before the age of two.
Does your daughter have any reason why she breathes through her mouth when sleeping – blocked nose etc? ear infections? sinus?
If so, there is a nasal spray for kids made with xylitol available on our kids website http://www.ZellierJunior.com
I wish you the best – and do not hesitate to contact me if you have more questions.
Please let me know what you decide and the outcome – it is good to share these questions and outcomes with other parents.
Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health!
author, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye