Dental woes for ds5

Today I took the kids to the dentist for the first time since we moved to Israel almost two years ago.  It’s embarrassing to me that I haven’t done this sooner but I’m so busy taking care of so many things, that everything takes longer than I want to get done.  I didn’t understand how the dental aspect of the health insurance here worked, and the person at the office I spoke to about it quite some time ago also didn’t.

Well.  Today’s news wasn’t good.  The kids I took were ds7 and ds5, and it was ds5 that I was particularly worried about.  I briefly wrote about this two years ago in the midst of our aliyah preparations, that when I took him for a routine dental check, I was shocked to find that he had a lot of cavities.  A lot.

This was very surprising to me since he wasn’t yet 4 years old, was homeschooled and therefore had very limited access to sugary treats.  We had a very good diet that included lots of healthy fats, raw milk, pastured eggs, broth, fermented vegetables, and no white sugar or white flour at all.  Of course we did have baked goods with organic sucanat and nut flours or freshly ground whole grain flour, but not the amounts you could attribute his level of cavities to.  And his cavities were totally disproportionate to all of the other kids’ state of dental health although they all have the same diet and similar toothbrushing habits.

I asked the dentist at the time what she attributed this to, and she said it’s possible he has highly acidic saliva.  I debated with myself about how to handle all of those cavities, knowing it’s possible to heal cavities, but decided to go ahead with traditional fillings since it was such a short time before we moved.  Knowing what I did about dental health, I was afraid we wouldn’t have the necessary factors in place for healing to take place, and so he had all of the cavities filled traditionally (20 – between almost all of his teeth).

Fast forward to today.  We’ve been a lot more careful with brushing with him as a result of his history, though his diet is worse than it used to be.  Firstly, our family diet isn’t nearly as good as it was for so many years due to cost and accessibility issues though most people would still call it very  healthy, and secondly, he’s at kindergarten daily and they get plenty of sugary snacks – it seems there’s always a party of some sort going on.

Ds7 was checked first, not much to be concerned about there despite all the sugary garbage he also eats regularly.  As I expected.  Before ds5 climbed into the chair, I warned the dentist he might find a very different situation.  And he did.  15 cavities, between most of his teeth.

I asked the dentist for his advice on prevention of this kind of thing, and he told me regular brushing and flossing.  I told him that we do regularly brush and that doesn’t seem to do much to help this particular child.  I told him I felt that ds5’s mouth ph was very acidic and causing this problem, and he dismissively shook his head and repeated that we need to brush and floss more.  I wasn’t hurt or surprised at this response; I’ve gotten used to very limited help from the professionals who are supposed to be experts since their learning is from an educational model that looks at the body as components rather than a holistic whole.

I felt kind of hopeless about this child’s dental health when I walked out of the office.  I absolutely don’t believe that this is an issue of inadequate brushing and know that this is going to be a constant issue with him unless we can figure out how to change his oral ph.  I know a number of things that can be done for healing cavities but just can’t afford all the traditional foods necessary.

Fortunately my discouragement was short-lived and I decided it was time for more research to see what else we could do.  I’ll share some of those things in my next post!


20 thoughts on “Dental woes for ds5

  1. Dear Avivah,
    Good for you for getting there! I find the longer I push off the dentist the harder it gets to go. It took me 5 years after I made aliyah and boy, was I sorry! Our excellent South African dentist who works in a community with large families told me he sees it a lot that the younger/youngest children in a family have less of whatever protects teeth from cavities.He said it has nothing to do with eating sugar. You might want to check the fluoride level in the water your family drinks. Also they now put sealants on children’s teeth, it’s been a life saver for my youngest. He needed root canal when he was still in gan! A lot of dental treatments are free for children now in Israel. I googled it and found every treatment you mentioned should be free up until age 12 as of 2012.
    good luck!

    1. The reason that most younger kids have worse teeth is because they inherit a deficient nutritional status since their mother’s supply was mostly given to older siblings and never built up. I didn’t expect this since my nutrition was extremely good with my youngest four children than with the olders and I expected this to compensate for their birth status. I can see by their jaw structure of them all that this wasn’t enough, however.

      I was told that the basic exam, xrays, fluoride treatment and sealants are free. Everything else is discounted from the full fee but you have to pay for it. This is for the basic level health insurance, which we have, but the benefits change if someone has the higher level.

      I’ve wondered about the fluoride in the water in Israel but I don’t know about that.

      1. AFAIK, the water in Israel isn’t fluoridated at all. It was always my understanding that that was the reason so many Israeli kids (and adults, of course) have such horrible teeth. I know that in Switzerland, where I live, the water isn’t fluoridated either, but the salt is supplemented with fluoride.

  2. Avivah, which kupa are you on? On Maccabi if you sign up 2 of your children for higher level (zahav or sheli) the remainder of your children under age 18 also get that level for free. So, while it means paying up to 80nis/month more(960nis/yr total for all kids under 18), it works out worth it, especially if your kids need glasses, dental work, speech therapy, OT, art therapy, horse/animal therapy, etc, which costs much more. There is a way to get most of this info in English and definitely all in Hebrew from the website of the kupa. Sometimes I take along a notebook to the medical secretary and just sit and ask questions and take notes until I get the facts straight!

  3. If you’re on Clalit, they’ll do everything at once under general anesthesia for a total of 44 nis. It might be something to consider if he really needs that much work and he’s not the most cooperative patient.

  4. some people just have bad genetics. Both my sister and I suffered from numerous cavities as children, despite brushing. We were told it has something to do with the quality of enamel you have.

    1. I’ve never had a cavity…

      What I’ve read is that the bacteria that causes the problem can be passed down, as can a weak nutritional status.

  5. On an alternative note some children need a little extra vitamin C for dental health. Don’t suppose you will hear that from the dentist but it does help. My son had some trouble with the baby teeth. I put him on 500mg vit C a day, and no more troubles.

  6. LIke all appliances in Israel, a WaterPik may be expensive and difficult to find, but it might be helpful–especially given that most of the cavities were between teeth. To a 5 year old, spraying jets of water would seem to be both more fun, and less dextrously challenging, than flossing.

    1. I just read today that a waterpik can cause more problems than it solves, since it can damage sensitive tissue or something like that. I didn’t read the details on that particular issue. It sounds like a great way to make brushing more fun, though!

      The reason brushing more won’t help because it doesn’t address the underlying issue that’s causing the cavities. I’ll write more in my next post.

  7. Are the tissues more sensitive in children, or did this apply to adults as well? I have a bridge, and all my dental providers have been fans of the WaterPik.

    1. I just did a quick search of the site where I thought I saw this mentioned and didn’t find what I was looking for. It must have been somewhere else but once I start reading up on a topic, I can range pretty far and I can’t guess where I saw what I did – I’m sorry that I can’t answer the question!

  8. I had read the air flossers could be damaging because they dehydrate tissue, but never anything against the WaterPik. Hatzlacha in finding a solution that works for ds5.

  9. I have one child with way more cavities than any of the others, although not as many as your son. She’s 7. The dentist said her tooth enamel is just really thin on her baby teeth, but Baruch Hashem doesn’t seem to be a problem with her grownup teeth. I hope you find a good solution!

  10. My oldest had/has this issue. She had a cavity on virtually every baby tooth; some had multiple cavities. The dentist insisted it must be because we let her drink too much soda, although we never buy soda or other sugary beverages. None of my younger kids have had a single cavity, and all of them eat the same type of diet. It’s interesting, since as you wrote above, you’d expect the older children to have the best teeth. She also has an issue with bad breath. I know there’s something going on there, but have not been able to pinpoint it.

    1. Binah, it could be related to your nutrition when you were pregnant. I was vegan when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter for just the first few months of her pregnancy (it’s at this point that their dental status is being formed), and she has a tooth that is hypoplastic (soft enamel) and also has to be super vigilant about brushing in order to avoid cavities, unlike the other kids. And had the most crooked teeth of everyone for the same reason. My oldest son who was an infant when I was vegan also has a narrow jaw. You would expect this with younger children in a large family, but this was in spite of them being the oldest and they otherwise would have inherited the best nutritional status. Vegetarianism and specifically veganism is a disaster for young children and their teeth because they don’t get critical nutrients.

      1. Well, I was vegetarian during her pregnancy, but I have eaten a mostly vegetarian diet during all my pregnancies. I did start eating fish at some point, maybe sometime after my second was born, although I cannot remember exactly when that was.

        When I compare my nutrition during the pregnancy with her verses the others in general terms, however, I’d have to guess that my nutrition was better with hers. Hers is the only pregnancy during which I did not lose weight. Most of my other pregnancies have involved losing almost 20 pounds between weeks 5 and 12 or so due to extreme nausea. Usually I gained it back, but not always, despite eating as much as I possibly could.

    2. I took my daughter off dairy products and her bad breath (that she has had since she was a baby!) disappeared within a few days.

      1. That’s an interesting idea. There have been a number of times we haven’t had dairy due to it being unavailable, but she still had bad breath as far as I can recall. I wasn’t checking for it, so maybe it’s worth another try.

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