How To Raise A Child With Perfect Teeth Part II
Tooth decay, crooked teeth and gum disease were almost entirely absent prior to 10,000 years ago.(1) The introduction of dense acellular carbohydrates into the human diet via farming/grain consumption initiated a trend towards tooth decay, gum disease, crooked teeth, obesity, heart disease, and cancer etc.(2,3,4,5) In his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Weston A. Price noted that, “In a study of several hundred skulls taken from the burial mounds of southern Florida, the incidence of tooth decay was so low as to constitute an immunity of apparently one hundred percent, since in several hundred skulls not a single tooth was found to have been attacked by tooth decay. Dental arch deformity and the typical change in facial form due to an inadequate nutrition were also completely absent, all dental arches having a form and interdental relationship [occlusion] such as to bring them into the classification of normal.” In short, the teeth of ancient people were straight and decay free. His book is full of examples of traditional cultures having almost perfect mouths while their neighbors who had been recently exposed to modern foods did not. Indeed, after the change in diet, their next children born developed crooked teeth.(6) It is imperative that expectant parents have a diet that contains all of the nutrients needed to form a healthy baby in the womb.
The cultures studied by Dr. Price all knew that in order to form a healthy baby, a healthy lifestyle and diet were necessary. In order to make anything, you need building blocks. Your baby is no different. The healthy people he studied were consuming four times the minerals and water-soluble vitamins (C and B as examples) than their unhealthy counterparts. The minerals, fat and protein are the raw materials needed to build a healthy baby, and the vitamins are the mortar. If you are maintaining a building and only use poor materials, or even worse, you have no building materials, you will expect the edifice to deteriorate. In or out of the womb, the human body is no different. Deficiencies of nutrients will lead to physical problems.
Even though all the healthy populations Price studied had vastly differing diets, he found two commonalities. (1) They all consumed nutrient dense animal foods like fish, shellfish, meat, poultry and eggs (even the ones who were mostly vegetarian) and (2) the food of traditional cultures lacked processed carbohydrates.
Price determined that the fat-soluble vitamins (contained in the animal fat they consumed) were the main reason for the spectacular dental health of the traditional people. These include vitamin A, D and K2. Vitamin A is needed for the proper development of the face. (7) Vitamin D works with Vitamin K2 for proper facial development and normal dental arches.(8,9) Vitamin K2 deficiency causes small arches, crooked teeth, and poor development of the face, jaw, and sinuses. Vitamin K deficiency can also cause mouth breathing and poor tooth development which can increase susceptibility to cavities. Since not all fat is stored for energy, the human body is almost ¾ fat. For this reason researchers have noted that for most of our evolutionary history fat consumption was at least 50% of our caloric intake, and it was from consuming animals.(10) Indeed, Dr. Price determined that the traditional cultures were consuming ten times the amount of the fat soluble vitamins.
Because low-fat meats don’t supply the vitamins needed to reconstitute your meal into useful building blocks, you will need to pull the fat-soluble vitamins out of storage, which can lead to deficiencies in the fat-soluble vitamins. Over 45% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. (11)
Conversely, it has been found that the presence of acellular carbohydrates (processed carbs and fermentable carbohydrate) in the diet lead to changes in the oral and gut microbiome leading to tooth decay, gum disease and many other modern ailments. (12) For more on this subject read my previous posts here, here, here and here.
After your child is born, the only food they will need for the first 6 months is breastmilk. It includes every nutrient they will need, including water. It confers immunity to many diseases as well. (13) According to calculations made by UNICEF, exclusive breastfeeding prevents over 1.3 million deaths per year. (14,15) After 6 months, the child’s activity level and size will require supplemental food, but breastfeeding should continue until about 18 months of age.
The human nipple, the baby’s suckling mechanism and the nutrient content of milk ensure proper facial and arch development. For this reason, bottles and pacifiers are not recommended. The shape and consistency of artificial nipples cause unnatural forces on the baby’s mouth, which can alter facial growth patterns. The nutrient content of formula is also not as good as breastmilk which can affect facial development. Pacifiers are also on demand 24 hours a day leading to use well after 3 years of age, increasing the likelihood of improper arch and facial development. (16)
The use of baby bottles overnight is extremely bad for your child, especially when they have teeth. Even with milk or diluted juice, the constant presence of lactose/sucrose can rot the teeth very quickly. This is called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, Baby Bottle Rot, or just Bottle Rot. (17)
Introducing solid foods should be initiated at 6 months. Egg yolks should be the first food due to the high amount of cholesterol, choline, fat-soluble nutrients and softness. Cod liver oil is also excellent due to its high fat-soluble vitamin content. Liver is also an amazing source of nutrients and is soft enough for a 6-month-old. Carbohydrates are not recommended as the digestive system is not ready at this stage.
At 7 months, pureed meats and softer fruits like bananas, avocados, and mango can be introduced.
At 8 months, bone broth and dairy can be added.
At 10 months, solid vegetables and fruits can be added.
Finally, at one year, nuts and seeds can be added.
This list is not exhaustive. I am including just a portion of it here as it was part of my functional medicine training. For a much more in-depth list, I recommend Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code. It is an invaluable source and the basis of much of the material presented here today.
Harvard professor Dr. Daniel Lieberman states that chewing softer, processed food also has contributed to reducing face size by decreasing the largeness of our jaws and jaw muscles. This has been corroborated in the lab. Animals were fed either soft or hard food and the results showed that the group that ate the soft food had under-developed jaws. (18) I suggest adding tougher foods to our children’s diet. Jerky is a great example of a healthy food that requires vigorous and prolonged chewing. The us of gum has been suggested, however, the gum itself is very soft. The amount of force generated is dependent only on how hard you choose to chew it. As a result, severe tooth wear can result, so I am not sold on this advice.
1. Proper nutrition including the fat-soluble vitamins, water soluble vitamins, minerals and all the other nutrients is a must prior to conception and during pregnancy. I have all of the details on my website here.
2. Breastfeeding is a must for at least 6 months and up to 18 months as a supplement.
3. Don’t use a baby bottle or pacifier.
4. Introduce the correct foods at the right time.
5. Stick to a paleo-based diet devoid of processed carbohydrates for you and your child.
6. Include hard foods
78,9,10. Take care of your child’s teeth, monitor their development and breathing, and take them to the dentist. See How To Raise A Child With Perfect Teeth Part I for the details.