Having joked many times in the past that I grew up on a diet of sugar and neglect, I didn’t think writing this piece would evoke such emotion. Yet here we are. They say toothache is the next worse pain to childbirth and now I’ve experienced both, I’m inclined to agree. The photo below is from a recent extraction of one of my four front teeth, which was already a false crown. The original tooth fell out while I was eating a handful of nuts the day after giving birth to Clara. Literally, came clean out, and remains one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had. Apparently it’s quite common if you have a prolonged pushing stage, like I did.
Seven years later and those damn nuts got me again. I’m usually careful to only use my back teeth when eating anything hard, but not this time evidently. Maybe I needed the lesson reinforced? So I was eating a nutty snack (at the beginning of March) and heard the dreaded crunching sound. Immediately after, I knew something had shifted and visited my NHS dentist the following week. He confirmed that I was in receipt of a fractured root and referred me to the orthodontist at the hospital. Three months later, I’d not even had a letter to say I was on the waiting list.
Over time my annoying – but not painful – fracture had morphed into a wobbly tooth holding on by a thread. By mid June it was severely infected and inflamed and I was in agony. Still no word from the orthodontist, the only option I was left with was having it removed and a false tooth being inserted via a bridge. Safe to say I’ve had better days. Forever looking for the silver linings, I feel this is a great opportunity to explain, in detail, why I keep my children away from refined sugars.
Teeth and sugar are intrinsically linked
Most people think I’m OTT in my approach towards sugar. Perhaps if they had to live with the sort of teeth problems I’ve had over the years, they might have a better understanding. Truth be told, my views on sugar are deeply rooted in a suffering which is difficult to articulate. I used to regularly drink coke and eat chocolate on my way to school, had a diet full of processed junk and also took a lot of medication in my earliest years. All of which contributed to having rotten teeth, needing tons of work from childhood. Root canals, which started at ten years old. Pre-molar extractions a few years later. Cavities filled and more root canals as a teenager. Thankfully I was blessed with naturally straight teeth, so that’s something to be grateful for.
By 2002 my front teeth were very discoloured, so I invested in a lot of cosmetic dentistry. This included having internal bleaching on the front two teeth and veneers put on the front four. My dentist at the time said I would be lucky to get ten years out of the work. As you can imagine, after spending all that money, I became meticulous about my dental routine. Even so, once a decade passed, then another year and another, I began dreading my six monthly check ups. I knew I’d end up going to an appointment one day, and being told I needed extensive work.
The complicated relationship between sugar and teeth
Let’s assume that we all take excellent care of our teeth with great hygiene – twice daily brushing; flossing; regular check ups to the dentist. All that aside, it will still be exceptionally difficult for our teeth to remain in good health if we are not adequately nourished. Refined sugar gets a bad rap, and rightly so. It feeds disease; contributes towards autoimmune problems; creates hyperactivity and all the associated problems that come with riding the blood-sugar rollercoaster. But it’s an unmitigated disaster for our teeth. We’re all well versed with how eating loads of sugar will more than likely lead to decay. However, it’s not as widely known that a consistently nutrient-poor diet will lead to our bodies pulling essential minerals (that are naturally present from birth) from our teeth.
As adults, we are fully in control of our choices. For children, this is not the case and it’s unfair to expect them to make healthy eating decisions in the face of sugary options. Not many people write about the other side of a childhood full of sugar, because the reality is grim and harsh to confront.
Bottom line: We only get one set of teeth and we must look after them from the very start
I completely understand how tricky this can be, though. Especially with kids on the spectrum, or those with sensory issues. If your little ones need some help, I can’t recommend Playbrush highly enough. It’s an interactive toothbrush, which links to a fun game and my three absolutely love it.
***disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, but the original blog above and video below were.