How to Strengthen Baby Teeth?

Updated on October 21, 2010
K.C. asks from Buzzards Bay, MA
7 answers

My son recently was seen by a dentist who said he had a few cavities in his baby teeth (no doubt due to all the juice he drank, which is now banned!). He suggested filling and drilling under general anesthesia, but the cavities are very small and just in the beginning stages. What I want to know is if there is anything out there that I can use on his teeth to halt the decay. Are there alternatives to filling and drilling that you have used on children? I have heard of paint-on fluoride varnish and ozone therapy and would love to know if anyone has used there too.

What is your opinion on Fluoride?


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answers from Cincinnati on

I have not used the fluoride varnish I would FIRST get a second mom had us at the dentist and he wanted to do all this stuff and she got another opion (because the cost was goign to be alot) and it ended up we were docs "suface" cavities may be his way of being OVER cautious. Surface cavities in my opion can wait. When you drill teeth all that shaking and rattling looses the existing enamal which can then cause more caviites down the road because your teeth are now weeker. I would the switch your son to a senative toothpaste. Can he use mouthwash?? I SWEAR BY LISTERINE (not a generic kind either, you need the actual brand Listerine) for your son, get the orange one . Make sure he rinses for 1 min in the morning and 1 min before brushing his teeth at night....then keep up the good habits of limiting juice...once he baby teeth come out, you can start with a fresh set of choppers :)

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answers from Springfield on

We used Gel-Kam, a topical flouride toothpaste from Colgate that you get from the pharmacist OTC. Under the direction of my son's dentist from the Boston Children's Hospital (that's right, we drove 3.5 hours to find a second opinion beyond "drill and fill") we rubbed a tiny amount over all tooth surfaces each night before bed. It worked really really well. It stained his teeth brown but hardened the cavities and arrested the decay. When he was 3, he was mature enough to allow the dentist to cap the most severely decayed teeth with a touch of strawberry flavored laughing gas.

I highly recommend a second opinion. It is worth it. Putting a little one under general anesthesia carries a lot of risk. If you must, you must but if there are alternatives that are less risky they are worth pursuing.

The Children's Hospital has a very advanced dentistry department.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

if the weakness formed while the teeth were growing in then the damage is done im afraid, my poor almost 2 year old has 4 milk carries on her teeth, they developed when she was not eating sugary foods, or drinking juice, they developed with ONLY my breast milk, and because she nursed during sleep.

These teeth make me sad every day, and i will not put her under till after the age of two, i have read horror stories.

these cavities are happening so much more today than ever before, i think there is an unseen culprit, i was vigilant in her dental care, brushing her gums and staying away from tap water and corrosive food. to no avail.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

my belief: for strong bones and strong teeth, lots of milk which is full of calcium, spinach and brocolli also has loads of calcium in it. i notice a huge difference even in my own teeth when I include these in my diet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I am a little concerned about the response from Lisa W. Of course, I mean no disrespect to Lisa W. I would simply like to offer some professional advice.

I am a board-certified pediatric dentist and I strongly discourage using the “orange Listerine.” It contains approximately 21% alcohol!

Listerine does make a fluoride mouth rinse for kids called “Listerine Smart Rinse” which comes in 2 flavors and contains NO ALCOHOL.

Regarding Lisa W’s comments about enamel, removing dental decay with a handpiece will not weaken or “loosen” the remaining enamel. Enamel is the hardest mineralized tissue in your body. If it was so unstable, we would not ever be able to chew or eat comfortably.

Because enamel has such a high mineral content, it can be demineralized. This means that acids can dissolve enamel. When this happens, you have dental caries, which is the disease that causes “cavities.”

K., you didn’t mention the age of your son. Until he can spit thoroughly, you shouldn’t use a fluoride mouth rinse at all. And, fluoride toothpaste should be extremely limited or eliminated altogether until he can spit. Fluoride varnish may work to remineralize small carious lesions, but only your dentist would be able to advise you regarding the size and impact of the current decay on the tooth. I suspect that if outpatient surgery is being recommended, the lesions may be beyond any benefit from remineralization. And, the dentist likely believes that your son may not be able to tolerate having the treatment delivered in-office.

If the lesions cannot be remineralized, then treatment is indicated. Unfortunately, untreated cavities continue to progress. When they do, you may lose the opportunity of repair with a white filling and your son may need a crown and, possibly, pulp treatment.

Regarding ozone therapy, there is no reliable and consistent research that supports the idea that ozone gas can arrest or reverse the progression of dental caries. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry does not include ozone therapy in its Reference Manual. Therefore, its use by any dentist amounts to experimentation, at best. Experimentation is not what I would recommend for one of my pediatric patients.

I do agree with Lisa W. that you may want to consider a second opinion. Our parents are always encouraged to do so. This helps both the parent and the doctor. The parent is able get information from a fresh perspective and the doctor will feel comfortable that the parent is well advised and has made an informed decision.

I hope this information if helpful. You may email me with any other questions.

By the way, you have some pretty amazing pediatric dentists in your state.
Dr. David Tesini is in Sudbury, MA. He developed the “Toothprint,” which is a child identification technique. Dr. Joseph O’Donnell is in Winchester, MA. Both have been wonderful mentors.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I just read an article that said parents/caregivers could be responsible for cavities from transferring their germs to the kids' mouths (ex: tasting something off their fork before giving it to them).

If you or your hubby have dental problems, this could be a contributing factor.

But, regardless I would do as instructed by your dentist. They want the best for your child's dental health too.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My 4-year-old son went to the dentst for the second time -- but the first time he actually allowed a cleaning -- this year. He had two small cavitiies filled. We do not drink a lot of juice or ANY hard candy. he drinks a lot of milk and eats plenty of fruits and vegetables and overall has good nutrition. We brush and floss teeth every night. So I'm not saying you aren't right to limit the juice in your house (and especially make sure your son is not using a sippy cup, which gives the juice more contact with the teeth). But I do want to say that cavities might have happened anyway.

We do not have fluoride in our town water, and I had gotten a prescription for fluoride pills that I am supposed to dissolve in his water, but I hadn't been very good about using them. My dentist reccommended buying flouridated water. There is also ACT fluoride rinse, but my son refuses to try that (he is spitting well now and can use fluoride toothpaste). In any case, in answer to the question about fluoride, you definitely want to make sure your son is getting fluoride in his water. My dentist and my pediatrician both reccommend it, and I have read studies showing how much it cuts down on cavities (in adults too).

For now, though, you should get those cavities filled. I want to mention that my son was totally uncooperative during the fillings, and that can be dangerous. Plus, the dentist was unable to do the job properly, and part of the filling came out the next day. So if you think your son won't cooperate, you should definitely consider ways to make the procedure successful and not too scary. You could discuss options with your dentist. At the very least, I reccommend that the dentist explain what is going on. That would have been much less frightening for my son, who cooperated very well (surprisingly well) with the hygenist during the cleaning. She explained everything, whereas the dentist took a rush-in-and-be-done approach with the fillings.

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