With Halloween around the corner and the inevitable sweets and treats, it’s a good time to talk about dental health. Oral health is wide-ranging, covering everything from tooth decay, to gum health, tongue-tie, orthodontics, breathing and eating issues. In this newsletter we’ll start by covering how to help keep your child’s teeth free of decay with a few tips and tricks.
Those of you with children who have sensory issues know how much of a battle it can be to get them to brush teeth or be seen by a dentist so it’s more important than ever to try and protect their teeth from the onslaught of sugar this time of year. Remember, sugar not only causes tooth decay, but also impacts everything from the immune system to brain health.
If you go trick or treating, sugar consumption can be hard to control as the kids are given so many sweets. I used to let my children have a few bits of candy on the day, making sure I filled them up with lots of good food first. Then we would have a ‘sweetie swap’ and they would trade in their sweets for something else – anything from cinema tickets to a new toy or a special dinner out. It was a way for them to feel they had ‘earned’ something fun without damaging their health by eating all the sweets. Hope this helps you protect them from all that scary sugar!
Oral health can be scary for those with sensory issues. Here is a list of things to try, noting that every child is different and you will need to research what works best for you and your family. The most important thing to remember is not to give up – oral health is so important and it’s worth investing time and effort even when it feels impossible.
Sugar is enemy number one for teeth and for good reason. It feeds the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay. Below we have Xylitol as our ‘food of the week’. This sugar substitute is loved by dentists because it actively eliminates the bad bacteria. An extra bonus is that it won’t spike blood sugar either so is better for overall health.
I used to feed my kids raisins and dried fruits when they were little thinking it was much better than sweets. Although they are natural and have more nutrition than processed sweets, a dentist friend told me these were some of the worst snacks for teeth because they are so sticky – they get stuck to the crevices in teeth and the bacteria feeds off the natural sugar. So unless your child is very good at brushing their teeth, stick to fresh fruit instead of dried.
Trips to the dentist for check ups are essential – to catch possible dental decay and treat before the teeth get painful. Head-banging, eating issues and inappropriate biting can be symptoms of painful teeth so it’s very important to get your child’s teeth checked. This can seem impossible for someone who has sensory issues and anxiety, but there are more and more ‘autism friendly’ dentists. Do a google search in your area or ask other parents for recommendations of a dentist who is willing to work with your child. Sometimes it can take a few visits before the child allows the dentist to even look into their mouth – but this preparation will be worth it if it means your child’s teeth can be properly looked at. They will go through options with you on how best to work with your child and have many techniques to help lessen anxiety and improve cooperation.
There have been many different types of toothbrushes designed to help children brush their teeth more effectively, whether they have autism or not. Some are electric and some use ultra-sonic technology now. Although there’s no one toothbrush we can recommend that all kids will love using, a simple search on Amazon will bring up a lot of options if you type in “Autism toothbrush”. You may need to try a few before you find one your child will tolerate but again, it will be worth it!
If your child is resistant to brushing, try to get them into the habit of rinsing their mouth after meals. Even plain water will help wash away some sugars. Our supplement of the week is a handy mouthwash that is safe to swallow (and can also fights yeast overgrowth if they do swallow it – a bonus for most of our kids). Even if you can’t get them to brush their teeth regularly, making sure they rinse their mouth with this mouthwash will help fight the bad bacteria.
Xylitol is a naturally sweet substance that is found in many foods and is also manufactured as an alternative to sugar due to the fact that it can sweeten without raising blood sugar levels and has actually been proven to fight the bacteria that causes dental decay. It is very safe but with any food, too much may cause symptoms including mild stomach cramps and diarrhoea. It’s also worth noting Xylitol is VERY toxic to dogs – so if your little one is having a treat with Xylitol be sure they don’t give their furry friends a taste. You can buy Xylitol in most groceries and many health food shops or on line and replace like for like with sugar in most recipes.
There are also many Xylitol treats like gum and hard candy. Be sure to still read the ingredients and avoid products with artificial colouring and flavours. Quite a few products also use Stevia as an extra sweetener which may cause digestive issues in very sensitive individuals. As always, read the label, introduce slowly and note any changes in symptoms.
This is not a nutritional supplement per se, but we love this mouthwash because it is 100% natural and safe enough to swallow. It uses the antibacterial herb oregano to help combat bad bacteria and if your child swallows it, will also combat yeast overgrowth in the gut. We usually buy ours from this supplier but you may be able to find other places. If you pair it with a gentle, probiotic toothpaste like Designs for Health Periobac, even just rubbing it on the teeth and gums will help fight off tooth decay. You don’t need to rinse and it’s also safe to swallow. Please be sure to follow directions carefully with each product and also keep away from pets.
|Buying supplements from our trusted suppliers
We recommend our patients buy supplements from the below suppliers. Note any supplement mentioned in the above article is for educational purposes only. You should only try new supplements with your child with the approval of your healthcare practitioner. If you have already gotten approval, please feel free to make use of the exclusive Brainstorm Health® discount codes we have negotiated with our suppliers. Some suppliers support Brainstorm Health® with a small commission which we reinvest into creating quality content like this newsletter to give as much free support to our community as possible.
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