To survive and thrive, we need four things for our body  Oxygen, Water, Nutrition, and Sleep. All of these things start with our mouth and our nose. 

We treat our mouth and nose like isolated parts of our body; the truth is if we want to be in the best possible health… our mouth, nose, and teeth are a great place to start to live a healthy, happy life. So why not start caring for our mouth and our nose as soon as we are born?

Our mouth is the gateway into our body, and if we are not breathing correctly and our mouth has a disease, we are not as healthy as we think. Our apple watches even tell us to breathe. Our teeth are the strongest surface, and our tongue is the strongest muscle in our body, and we put them last on our to-do list to care for. 

Sucking and chewing are required for nursing and help develop the facial muscles and stimulate stem cell growth for stronger bones and a better airway. A few hundred years ago, a mother breastfed until a toddler was 2-5 years old, sometimes longer, now frowned upon today. The longer a child spent chewing and sucking, the better their airways, jaw, and facial muscles developed. We had a lower incidence of snoring, grinding, crooked teeth, ADHD, and sleep apnea.

We do not give much thought to how we breathe. We usually don’t even check to see how our kids are breathing until there is a problem. So let’s start with breathing.

Your baby can’t even breathe through their mouth until they are 3 months old. So keeping their nose clear is very important. I recommend Xclear with xylitol.

Why is this even important?

Even before a baby is born, the pregnant mother can proactively influence the child’s future oral health. In a process called maternal imprinting, the mother passes on the makeup of her microbiome (the sum of the microbiota in the human body), whether good or bad, to the baby. If the mother has a good oral microbiome, that is, if she has a healthy mouth, then her baby will also have a healthy mouth. Case in point, studies show that when a pregnant mother uses xylitol, her child will have decreased dental decay (Soderling, Nakai). For more information and studies

If your baby, infant, or toddler begins to breathe through the mouth, their flight or flight system is activated. The body thinks it is in an emergency state. 

Germs enter and spread through the body from a few places, the most common of which are the nose and mouth. Though we need to pay attention to cleaning our noses (most definitely!), making sure your mouth is clean is especially important for your health and the health of others. If you don’t pay attention to your oral hygiene, the bacteria and viruses that enter your mouth can spread to other parts of your body quite easily and contribute to systemic diseases as you age.

First and foremost, the mouth is a gateway for bacteria, which causes cavities and gum disease. But germs can also infiltrate the body through the mouth and cause greater problems elsewhere. Studies have shown that when people have poor oral hygiene and suffer from gum disease, bacteria can slip into the bloodstream of infected gum tissue. This can lead to plaque buildup in blood vessels and contribute to heart disease. Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to diabetes, oral cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.

The mouth and nose can also host viruses, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus. From there, it can get into the airway and infect the lungs. Again, oral hygiene is much more than making sure you have a pretty smile. This is about whole-body health and making sure the areas that germs can enter are clean.

In order to thrive and grow, bacteria stick to cells and go through a process called quorum sensing, where they come together to create a colony. If an agent, like xylitol, can inhibit bacteria from sticking to cells, then the bacteria cannot thrive and will be washed out of the body by flushing. 

We should start looking in our infants’ mouths as soon as they are born to get familiar with what is normal for them and so we can catch things that might not be… sooner. What are we looking for exactly? Does your child have difficulty feeding? Do they have a lip or tongue tie? Are they snoring or grinding their teeth? Do they mouth or nose breath? Where is their tongue? How do they swallow? Do they have a sucking habit? Thumb, fingers, lips, or clothes?

At 6 months, your baby will be more active and is exploring the world around them and using the hands and mouth as sensory receptors. That means their hands and their mouths will work together. It is important you allow your baby to explore with their hands and feet. It is around 6 months they start to put their feet in their mouth. Remember, your baby’s mouth is a window into the world. So when they put things in their mouth, they are learning and exploring touch, feel, taste, smell.

Mouthing and mouth play are important for mouth development; they help your little one in learning and calming themself. Your baby may mouth their fingers, fist, and/or thumb to calm themselves. It is known as self-soothing. You will see less sucking and more chewing at this stage. The trick is to find safe and appropriate objects and toys to chew. There are many more options now than there were when my daughter was little. Ark makes chewy tubes that are safe, non-toxic, latex-free, lead-free, and they are made in the USA. 

Some parents are hesitant to give chewy toys before their infants get teeth; your baby will be ready to do something with the gums while they are working on getting teeth. Make sure you are supervising while they use these toys.

Between 6-9 months, your baby’s gag reflex moves to the back third of the tongue. They will explore toys with the front, middle back, and side of their tongue. So be mindful of what you give them, so they do not gag or choke. 

Begin wiping your baby’s gums the first few days and wipe your baby’s mouth with a damp washcloth or moist piece of gauze. It is important to remove as many bacteria as possible.

Did you know bacteria cause tooth decay, and you can actually pass the bacteria from your mouth to your baby’s if you put the pacifier in your mouth to clean it, then put it in your baby’s?

Like many things …There is research both for and against this practice.

Keeping your mouth healthy is good for you and your baby. Bacteria are familial studies that have shown families share the same bacteria.

AS we discuss in the last episode, your baby’s first teeth will begin to appear as early as 4-6 months.

Baby teeth can decay as soon as they appear in the mouth, especially if they are in contact with sugary foods or liquids for long periods of time.

Like fruit juice, sweetened water formula, or even breast milk, so never put your baby to bed with a bottle or sippy cup. Do not use a bottle as a pacifier if they are fussy.

Even though baby teeth will fall out, it is important to take good care of them.

Some parents think that oral care isn’t as important in the early years of a child’s life because the baby’s teeth will fall out. However, this period in the child’s life is when a healthy oral environment is established, which can lead to a lifetime of healthy or unhealthy teeth and gums. Studies show that using xylitol early on in a child’s life will have long-lasting effects by decreasing cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.

That is why it is recommended to clean your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. My daughter was thirteen months old before she got her first tooth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur.  

A baby already has 20 primary teeth present in the jaws at birth, yet they do not typically begin to appear in the baby’s mouth until between 6 months and 1 year.

Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3.

To see the order of the teeth breakthrough and at what ages you can expect the teeth to erupt, download the tooth eruption chart. 

 Every child is different, but usually, the first teeth to come in are the bottom two front of their mouth. Then the top two. The adult teeth erupt at about age six.

Some babies may have sore or tender gums when they are teething.

Gently rubbing your child’s gums, a wet washcloth, or gauze pad can be soothing. I used to wet and freeze baby washcloths and rub them on my daughter’s gums when she was a baby. It was very soothing to her.

You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physician.

Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They help him or her chew, speak and smile. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. 

After the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday, a dental visit at an early age is a “well-baby checkup” for the teeth. Besides checking for cavities and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly and how to handle habits like thumb sucking later in life.

Speech Milestones

Speech: When children have an open mouth posture, they are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. The most commonly associated speech problem is a lisp, or the inability to say “S” sounds correct. 

Speech can be affected when you have an open mouth; you also can develop  what we refer to as a “tongue thrust or tongue thrust swallowing pattern.” This type of swallowing pattern causes the tongue to protrude or push forward during speaking and swallowing.

When we think about our teeth, we think we use them most to eat and chew our food. They also play an important role in our ability to communicate with others, both verbally and nonverbally. It’s easy to overlook how speech disorders and their origins can affect oral health and can begin with tongue posture.

Common Dental causes of speech disorders.

In the frenum, there are several attachments in the mouth; the two big ones that cause problems are: The tight ligament that attaches the upper lip to the gums is called the labial frenum. The one that attaches the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is called the lingual frenum, the tissue must be of a certain length to permit a full range of movement of the tongue. A child is tongue-tied if they have a short frenulum and cannot move his/her tongue to pronounce sounds made by the letters D, L, N, R, and T.

Fortunately, the problem can be addressed with a minor surgical procedure. Unfortunately, it goes unnoticed, or we only think it is a problem if a baby is having issues latching or if they cannot stick out our tongue. Known as an anterior tongue tie. A posterior tongue tie can be an issue for speech and breathing as your child grows and can lead to compensating by lifting the floor of the mouth, sleep apnea, poor tongue posture and chronic headaches, crowded teeth due to high palate from mouth breathing, and other issues.

Prolonged thumb sucking can affect speech as well as your child grows because it applies unnatural pressure that affects the physical structure of the mouth and the position of the teeth. The palate may become malformed, and teeth are forced forward, and the tongue enters that space. As a result, the child may develop what is known as an open bite. These changes can interfere with speech development and may affect the proper positioning of permanent teeth. This often leads to malocclusion. 

The term malocclusion describes a condition in which the teeth are not properly positioned when the jaws. Open bite in young children raises concerns because several sounds commonly used in speech cannot be enunciated when so much space is present between these teeth and habits are formed with tongue position. Orthodontic appliances are commonly used to gently allow the teeth to move into their proper position.

All children eventually lose their baby teeth over a period of several years. Generally 6-14 years. When a tooth is lost to natural causes, a permanent tooth takes its place if there is enough space. Potential problems occur when a child loses several teeth at once, whether as the result of an injury or illness or when the extraction is needed to address major decay or infection. This can affect speech, teeth positions, and tongue posture.

There is no connection between language development and getting teeth.  However, there are a few speech sounds that are affected by missing teeth. 

Between 4 to 6 months, babies respond to the word “no”, changes in your tone of voice, and to sounds other than speech. They can be fascinated by toys that make sounds and enjoy music.

Between 7 to 12 months, your baby  listens when spoken to, turns and looks when called by name, and discovers the fun of games like:  “peep-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake.”

Yikes!! Bath, Brushing, Bedtime, Sleep

Yet again, establishing a routine is important with your little one. No matter what routine it is, it is important you have one. Developing good habits when kids are young keeps good habits when they are older. It is much easier to start with good habits now than try to incorporate them later in life.

Our routine was bath time, brush our teeth, read a story, then went to bed for the first three years. I wish I had stuck to that routine.

Some people say kids do not need structure. When they are little, they absolutely need structure and routine. It is ok to vere from the path occasionally. But structure and routine provide them with security and a good night’s sleep that is important to their daily activities. If they do not sleep well, it affects all aspects of their life. Mostly it affects behavior if they do not get enough sleep.  

Developing a sleep routine at a young age is crucial. I learned the hard way. I created a crazy busy life to not deal with my feelings and emotions. If I just kept moving, everything was alright. That catches up with you eventually and is not good for your child. Learn from my mistakes. Routines are important, easy to break, and hard to create again once you do.

This is a whole topic of its own we will get into on another episode. 

Establishing routines

First, you need to have a good routine for yourself. Your baby and child learn from watching you and your habits and routine. Toothbrushing and eating are habits they will learn from you.

Trust me; it is not pretty the first time you realize your child picked up a bad habit from you. What you say or do comes back at you. I was like, I don’t sound like that!!! Do I? 

What we say, what we do, what we eat. It is all-important. They take cues from us.

What we feed our kids matters but it is how frequently we feed them that is more important.  So giving them goldfish in the bowl they can snack on all day long will cause cavities. Kids need at least an hour between snacks to let the pH and saliva buffer and reboot.

Watch your child see if they have sensitivities or allergies to foods. A true allergy they will break out in hives or not be able to breathe. Sensitivities are more subtle. Do their lips turn red? Do their cheeks turn pink? Do their eyes itch? Do they get sleepy after they eat something,

For my family Allergies and sensitivity to food are part of our family’s genetic makeup. Preservatives make my mom, me, and my daughter very sick when eating something with them in it that we are sensitive to like bacon or lunch meats we get to take a three-hour nap a half-hour after eating. some foods are a knock-out pinch for us. So we have to be very careful what we eat.

For us to feel better we need to keep to a strict diet avoiding certain foods. Below are some of the things we have to do to feel better. Food can be medicine, it can also make us sick. Especially processed foods and too much sugar. 

  • We Removed all processed foods, which are full of preservatives and artificial additives. Lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs are an absolute no for us. 
  • We eat whole foods that haven’t been altered from their original state.
  • NO SUGAR in all its forms: high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, table sugar, added sugar, refined sugar, honey, etc.
  • Juices, even if they’re 100 percent fruit. They are concentrated with simple carbs and sugar.
  • We eat a variety of veggies. Some of our favorites are Brussels sprouts and broccoli. My daughter ate chicken and broccoli for breakfast for years.

Our life got busy and we were a lot of fast food. We paid for it and our health suffered big time. Your body keeps score. 

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma 

by Bessel van der Kolk M.D. (Author)

Is a book on this subject it was not an easy read for me but it is a great resource and makes sense. 

Dr. Steve Lin has The Dental Diet... His book has great information on what to eat and what foods are good for your mouth and gut health.

The foods we eat are more important than we think. Since the agricultural revolution, our food has changed. We introduced a softer diet, more processed foods.  Changing the way we chew. This is affecting our mouths, the muscle of our tongue making it weaker, our teeth are more crowded and our airways are smaller. The shape of our faces is changing also. Our mouths are changing because our diet has changed and we chew less. Chewing widens our upper jaw and palate making more room for our tongue. The roof of our mouth is the floor of our nose so if our palate is narrow and high our airway is smaller like breathing through a straw. 

Again this is a whole other discussion. That needs more time.

We need to go back to the basics Oxygen, water, nutrition, and sleep.

I touched on a few points. We did not get into water or pH. 

I like to keep these short and sweet due to the fact that I get distracted when things go over 30 minutes.

We will get into these subjects in future episodes with special guests. 

What  I have learned over the past eight months is that there are causes and cures to mouth breathing, cavities, gum disease, airway obstruction, malocclusion, and more. Our noses and mouths are not predetermined by our genetics. We can intercept things early if we know what to look for and we can reverse the damage done by changing our habits, with tongue, proper posture, Chewing more, breathing through our nose, and caring for our mouths. 

We need to be our own health care advocates and take ownership of our health. 

Click the link provided and download the pdf of the tooth eruption chart and steps you can take today.

Let me know what was your biggest takeaway from today’s blog I would love to hear from you!

A healthy mouth is a healthy body and a healthy happy life!