Healthy Body

A lifetime of pearly whites

Written by Healthy Living

Be sure to brush up on your child’s dental health needs.

Story: Dr. Charles Reinertsen

No matter what age, the mouth is the front door to the entire body. Everything we eat or drink comes into the body through our mouth beginning at the moment we’re born and the umbilical cord is cut. All nutrition now enters the body through our mouth.

Along with nutrition, bacteria and other particles also enter the body through the mouth. Many of these bacteria are necessary and help keep our body healthy. Some of these bacteria are harmful and cause diseases within the body. When a baby is born, he or she doesn’t even have the bacteria in their mouth that cause cavities. The baby picks up these bacteria from mom, dad, brother, sister, and even the dog. We live with bacteria all around us. If anyone who kisses or shares a spoon or a cup with the baby has gum disease or cavities, these bacteria are now transferred to the baby. The bacteria begin growing in the warm, moist environment (baby’s mouth) and, if fed sugar all day ( juice bottle, Gatorade, milk, Mountain Dew), the bacteria enjoy life and multiply like rabbits.

Babies begin forming plaque (bacteria coating) on their baby teeth as soon as the baby teeth erupt. If we keep the teeth clean of plaque, the teeth and gums remain healthy. Most babies experience some pain when they are “teething.” This is usually short-lived but no fun for the baby or the family.

If the plaque is left to build up on the baby teeth, cavities begin. Cavities are caused by acids from the bacteria dumping on the teeth. More sugar creates more bacterial acids. Once the acid eats through the tooth, the bacteria get to the nerve and then into the bloodstream. These cavities may or may not cause any pain. Now the bacteria are traveling in the bloodstream through the entire body. There is a good chance there will be other consequences in the body.

All of this can be prevented by completely removing the plaque (bacteria coating) from the teeth every day before it causes damage. For a baby or child, it will take up to five minutes a day to clean their teeth. You can’t do it in 30 seconds. To do it right takes time. For a teenager or adult, it takes five to seven minutes to completely clean teeth.

Make it a game. Use disclosing tablets (available at or to make it fun. When kids get older, about the age of 6, they should be able to properly clean their teeth on their own. Delegate and inspect. Check them frequently, just as you check yourself, with disclosing tablets. Kids learn from what parents “do” more than from what parents “say.”

Create a monthly family competition with prizes. The habit of excellent personal dental care can save thousands of dollars, help people avoid missed work or school with toothaches, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other debilitating diseases, and help ensure a nicer smile. A nicer smile opens many doors—all from the healthy habit of daily, complete home dental cleaning.

If a baby tooth has a cavity, why not take it out?

Here’s why: Baby teeth serve three main functions.

First, they allow the baby to chew more solid food. We need teeth to chew for efficient nutrient uptake and to prevent intestinal blockage.

Second, baby teeth help in developing speech. Certain sounds require teeth. Without teeth, proper speech development may be delayed or permanently altered.

Third, baby teeth maintain the space for the erupting adult tooth underneath. If the baby tooth is lost too soon, the teeth around it usually
drift, blocking out the space for the adult tooth that is still forming under the gum. If the crooked teeth are not corrected with orthodontics, there can be bite problems, gum issues, and future dental challenges and expenses.

A dentist can train parents to properly clean their children’s teeth,
along with checking for cavities or other issues. You can’t leave brushing
up to young children. They need instruction and practice.
The money spent preventing cavities and premature loss of baby teeth will pay for itself many times over. The time invested in dental health today will save thousands of dollars and help avoid many diseases in the future. Dental care is not expensive. Dental neglect is very expensive! It’s a choice.

About the writer:

 Dr. Charles Reinertsen operates his dental practice at 215 E. Burleigh Blvd. (Highway 441), Tavares. To learn more, call 352.253.6400 or visit or

About the author

Healthy Living

Healthy Living is unique in a sea of health magazines that only present information on nutrition and exercise. Published by Akers Media Group, Healthy Living goes much farther by focusing on the four pillars of a true wellness — physical, mental, spiritual and financial health.

Healthy Living promotes a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle with easy-to-read features, try-it-at-home exercise programs, and expert advice from financial planners, mental health professionals, and a variety of other leaders in their respective fields.

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