Whether you are an expectant mother and your child's baby teeth are already forming before your baby has even been born or your child's body is working hard to produce those adult teeth that will soon emerge (or have already begun emerging!) in your child's mouth, you likely do what you can to make sure your child's develop as healthy as can be. You will, of course, have your child brush and floss every day when they are older, limit their sugar intake, and take your child to the dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and check-ups. However, there are two everyday items that can get in the way of your baby's teeth creating that healthy enamel now that you need to know about, so read on to find out what they are.
1. Plastic Cups and Food Storage Containers
What do plastic food storage items and cups have to do with your child's teeth? Of course, those sippy cups can contribute to cavity formation when your child nurses them slowly while they are filled with any beverage that contains sugar (even natural sugar in milk!), however, those plastic items pose another hazard that isn't as widely known. Plastic contains chemicals called endocrine disruptors, and simply put, this means that they interfere with the body's natural hormonal processes.
What does this mean for your child's teeth? The development of every part of your child's body relies on hormones, as you likely know play a huge role during puberty. However, those hormones are in action long before puberty strikes, and they play a role in healthy tooth enamel production in your child's mouth.
One specific chemical in many plastics, BPA was the target of a recent scientific study (along with fungicide vincozolin), the researcher came to the conclusion that too much BPA exposure could interfere with healthy tooth enamel development, although they would like to perform more studies before they determine it is a fact. Do you use BPA-free plastic? While first believed to be a healthier alternative to plastic that contains BPA, the chemicals used to replace BPA in plastic have since been studied, and, unfortunately, they are also endocrine disruptors.
How Can You Avoid This Problem in a Plastic-filled World?
If you are like most people, it would simply be unrealistic to eliminate your usage of plastic, since it is so widely used in so many everyday products. However, you can reduce your child's (and yours if you are an expectant mother) exposure to it by making several small changes to how you store and prepare food and beverages:
Switch to as much glass, ceramic, and steel as you can in your kitchen. All of these materials are much safer than plastic, so choose ceramic dishes, glass or ceramic glasses, and steel water bottles to tote your and your child's water in. Wrap your child's lunch items in tin foil and consider a res-usable, non-plastic lunch set. With more and more people becoming aware of the hazards of plastic, you can now find children's lunch sets made of alternative materials, such as bamboo, that can be washed and re-used.
If you must use plastic storage containers, only store cold food in them. When you re-heat foods in plastic containers in the microwave, heat created causes the chemicals to leach out of the plastics into the food.
2. Chemical Sunscreens
Many chemical sunscreens also contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and while the link to endocrine disruption and tooth development is new, the link to these chemicals and other health problems is not. That means that there are alternatives on the market that work very well without the side effects of the chemicals.
Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide instead of the chemicals that can harm your child's teeth development. While ridding your life of plastic is not-so-easy, avoiding chemical-filled sunscreens, thankfully, is!
If you are expecting a new baby, then realize that your baby's tooth enamel is already developing. When you take care to encourage it to develop as healthy and strong as possible, you can look forward to those first few teeth that emerge looking beautiful! If you already have a child, then staying cautious of the everyday products your child is exposed to can help ensure their adult teeth emerge just as healthy.