February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, making it a great time to look at how families around the country are caring for their children’s teeth. Most parents believe they are doing the right thing by opting for popular brands of toothpaste and colorful products that will catch their child’s attention. Yet what these people are not usually aware of are all the hidden dangers in the mass-marketed products because of the ingredients they are made of.
“Many of the products that parents are buying for their children to use are made with ingredients that they really shouldn’t have,” explains Dr. Bruno Sharp, a fourth-generation dentist who created a line of products called Dr. Sharp Dentistry, and is celebrating their 10th year as a Natural Oral Care provider. “Ideally, you want to use a natural product, so you avoid the ingredients that can be harmful to your child’s health.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 17 percent of children between the ages of 5-19 have untreated dental caries. Furthermore according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HSS) 41 percent of American children have some form of dental fluorosis, a white or brown mottling of the teeth caused by long term ingestion of fluoride during the time the teeth are forming. In addition, the FDA’s warnings on toothpaste read: “keep out of the reach of children less than 6 years of age. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact poison control center immediately.”
When it comes to avoiding ingredients that can be harmful to a child’s health, fluoride tops the list. Although many people have been led to believe that it’s a good thing, it is actually highly controversial and has been linked to such issues as hypothyroidism, among other adverse affects. Additionally, it’s a good idea to avoid products that contain artificial colors and flavors, and products that come in bottles and tubes that may contain BPA.
Additional harmful ingredients parents should read the label for to avoid include parabens, alcohol, triclosan, DEA, gluten, sodium lauryl sulfate, and products that contain GMOs. It’s also a good idea for parents to look for those products that are cruelty free, so they don’t contain animal products or involve animal testing.
“You want your child to have great oral hygiene habits, but that starts with the quality of the products that they are using each day. When you opt for safe ones, then your routine is off to a great start,” added Dr. Sharp.
Dr. Sharp is also taking National Children’s Dental Health Month to donate 1,000 tubes of their Wild Berry Kids toothpaste to Operation Smile, a Virginia-based global medical non-profit that provides free cleft lip and clef palate surgeries to children around the world. The products will be shipped just in time for Operation Smile’s dental missions in the Philippines and Vietnam, beginning in April.
“Following surgery to heal their lips, we love to be able to help children get their best start with oral hygiene care,” says J. Lindsay Tomberg, Director of Global Philanthropy for Operation Smile. “We are grateful for the donation of these natural products that will help many children create good life-long habits in caring for their teeth.”