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Absurdly excessive cavities in children


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My children have the worst teeth.  I'm looking for some new ideas  Has anyone here dealt with this?

I have four children, and they've all had SO MANY cavities in baby teeth.  So, so many.  If we have a dental visit with one or two cavities, it is a huge celebration.  I'd love to stop this cycle.  

 

My 6 year old went last week--four cavities on all four 6 year molars that have been in less than a year.

 

We brush twice a day (I do both brushings for my 4 and 6 year olds; one brushing for my 8 and 10 year olds).  Use xylitol toothpaste.  Floss every day.  Use mouthwash.  We limit candy and only have a sugary drink (milk, juice, lemonade, anything) once a week.  I try to have them eat a well balanced diet, but no one is a huge fan of vegetables, some less so than others.  That doesn't seem to play out in their teeth, though.  The worst eater has the same amount as the best eater.  

 

Any other ideas?  What has worked for you?

 

I should add that there is a definite genetic component to this--my dh adn his 3 sisters all had lots of cavities as children, still have an incredible amount of dental work on the regular, my FIL went to full dentures at age 70, and all of the nieces and nephews (there are 14) struggle with this. My side, not so much.  

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It is just genetics. Out of my 4, fortunately only one got the bad gene. It happens to be the one who has always brushed her teeth every. single. time. she ate. Flossed twice a day minimum. Didn't matter. Cavities anyway. Sealants on adult teeth helped. Seems like they had to reapply them at some point. Honestly, after a while, all her molars were filled and that cut back on cavities. She'll still get one now and then on a non-chewing surface though. Funniest thing, this is the one who plans to be a dental hygienist. Her dentists have always recognized the fact that it is just a genetic thing and not scolded her for not taking care of her teeth. I feel for you, and them. It isn't fun.

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My youngest had bad baby teeth. It didn't matter what we did. We toook the time to teach him good habits for when his adult teeth came in.

 

We go in every six months for cleanings. The kids get fluoride treatments when it's time and sealants.

 

 

Thankfully his adult teeth are much healthier and stronger.

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My youngest has particularly vulnerable teeth. Too much sugar definitely has an impact, and it took me too long to realize that a big culprit in her early childhood was yogurt--I didn't realize that Tillamook yogurt had so much sugar--more than a candy bar at 33 grams! My oldest dd (disabled) doesn't like sweets but loves cheese and dairy--she has the best teeth of the three. No cavities yet. One thing that helped was getting my 2 younger kids Sonicare toothbrushes. I had noticed that my teeth felt a lot cleaner using one, and it has a timer so you end up brushing your teeth for 2 minutes (30 seconds in each quadrant). 

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Is that typical of that dentist?  We visited a dentist who recommended a lot more work than others would have when I was a kid--thankfully my mother went for a second opinion before we got into a lot of unnecessary stuff.

 

Watch out for those curiously strong mints--when DD was throwing those back pretty often was the only time she had more than one cavity in an appointment.  They are very corrosive to teeth.

 

 

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sealants

 

I have the same problem.  My husband doesn't have this problem at all.  So one of our kids had issues with cavities (the other zero issues).  The one with zero issues has a big sweet tooth.  So does my DH.  My cavity prone son and I do not.  Go figure!  So I really think the sealants are helping my cavity prone kid.

 

I'm 42 and about to have all my teeth pulled out and get dental implants.  I'm just so done with teeth issues (going this week in fact for a consult). 

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One of my kids has a few "weak spots" in the enamel of his baby teeth. Our ped dentist said they formed in utero and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. It just happens. We have to watch those spots carefully. He has had to have one cavity tended to so far. Apparently there's no concern for his adult teeth.

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My kids are like this. It comes from dh who did brush his teeth growing up and ate healthier then I did but his teeth are in horrible shape. It worries me that their teeth will end up like his. I on the other hand never had a cavity and I did drink juice growing up and ate unhealthy stuff more often. I am not sure what to do. We eat relatively healthy. They do not have juice or soda or any other drink like that and they brush their teeth and use kid flossers.

Edited by MistyMountain
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I think it's genetic, as well.  3 of my kids have had MANY cavities in baby teeth (but none in adult teeth so far), while the other two have always had perfect teeth (0-1 cavities).  They all were breastfed for the same amount of time, eat very similarly, and have good brushing and flossing habits.

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Has your dentist tested for bacterial counts in the mouth?  When we had DD in to a peds dentist, that was one of the things he tested after TONS of dental work.  He said her counts were very high and gave me a prescription for a special toothpaste.  We never used it because it came with all sorts of toxicity warnings about accidentally swallowing and I didn't feel good about her using it.

 

BUT, it was something I kept in mind after I stopped going to that dentist.  That was when I started making sure that daily probiotic yogurt was a part of my kids daily diets.  I can't totally say it helped or not, BUT DS didn't have near as many problems with his baby teeth as she did and both kids have grown in some nice healthy sets of adult teeth. 

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Fluoride. Supplementation for newborns (the only supplement recommended in my home country besides vit D for infants), fluoridated toothpaste for older kids. 

 

My sister and I had very bad teeth as kids, lots of cavities. Our younger brother, who is developmentally disabled and certainly not doing a  great job brushing, was born after fluoride toothpaste had been introduced - not a  single cavity.  

My kids have great teeth, despite DH and I having had lots of cavities as kids. They received fluoride supplementation as infants.

 

Edited by regentrude
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I'd consider these factors: 

-fluoride 

-how often they eat.  If they eat throughout the day rather than just a few times, that could be a problem. 

 

-don't brush right after eating. The enamel is softened & you may be damaging it. 

 

-brush with a very soft brush 

 

-do they have stuffy noses & sleep with their mouths open? Mouth breathing can have a negative impact. Consider humidifiers & decongestants 

 

-everyone fixates on candy but I actually think complex carbs such as bread, crackers can be as bad if not more problematic because they tend to stick to teeth more 

-take a good probiotic capsule. The mouth is part of the gut digestion system and I agree with the comment above about "bad" bacterial counts being potentially an issue. But I think yogurt is useless. Do a proper probiotic capsule. 

 

Edited by hornblower
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Fluoride. Supplementation for newborns, fluoridated toothpaste for older kids.

 

My sister and I had very bad teeth as kids, lots of cavities. Our younger brother, who is developmentally disabled and certainly not doing a  great job brushing, was born after fluoride toothpaste had been introduced - not a  single cavity.

 

There was fluoride in the water when I was a kid (and now).  I have always used fluoride toothpaste.  I also had fluoride treatments as a kid (at school).  Didn't matter.

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I would seriously go get a second opinion.  IME some child dentists frequently want much more extensive work than is necessary or healthy.   If it's a baby tooth and doesn't hurt, you can also wait and watch.

 

Having said that, sometimes it's genetics.  Sometimes it's an acidic diet - too many fruits without brushing, too much tea, etc.

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I would seriously go get a second opinion.  IME some child dentists frequently want much more extensive work than is necessary or healthy.   If it's a baby tooth and doesn't hurt, you can also wait and watch.

 

Having said that, sometimes it's genetics.  Sometimes it's an acidic diet - too many fruits without brushing, too much tea, etc.

 

I totally agree with this as well!  BTDT. 

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My son has this problem. I've been told by several different dentists that his enamel isn't formed properly. Luckily for him his adult teeth seem normal as they are slowly appearing, his first baby front tooth was really soft and strange.

 

Getting ozone treatment prolonged the lifespan of one particularly bad tooth. It was filled successfully for a few years before it got bad again.

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In addition to everything else suggested, I would also suggest a second opinion if you haven't done that yet.  I went to a new dentist once as a young adult and after having never had a cavity my entire life, he told me I had four!  I got a second opinion and as told that I had none.  And I didn't.  That was over 20 years ago and I still have not had any treated cavities.

 

I brought this up with our current dentist as we are acquainted outside of the dentist office.  He said that there is a great deal of variation in what one dentist will call a "cavity" and what others will.  He calls himself a "conservative" dentist that takes a wait-and-see approach more often than average.  Several times, we have left an appointment with him saying he saw a "soft spot" or "possible cavity" on dd's teeth and that he would prefer to just "watch it."  In all but one case, the issue resolved itself.  He told me many dentists will treat those as cavities.  I had no idea that there was any sort of gray area when it came to cavities until he told me all of this.  BTW, he is also a proponent of leaving wisdom teeth unless there is an issue and was on the flossing-probably-doesn't-help-much bandwagon years before the newest studies were released.

 

So, in your case, I am sure your kids do indeed have more dental problems than average but it might be worth a discussion with another dentist or two to make sure it is as bad as it seems.

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I have the cavity prone teeth in our family.  My husband has never had one.  He does not have healthier dental habits than me - I use an electric toothbrush, I floss, etc.  I think it can be just who you are.  I wish I had an electric toothbrush as a child, and have given them to our kids.  I think they do make a difference.  I also have our kids use mouthwash.  I think that helps too.  I'm hoping our kids teeth are more like their dad's...

 

I have a friend whose kids had a huge amount of cavities, and she changed their snacking habits to only non-cavity causing snacks.  Only cheese and some veggies.  That's it.  No pretzels or goldfish or juice - definitely no fruit snacks or sticky fruit or bread.  She did not change their meal foods, but she did have them brush their teeth after every meal/snack.  She felt like the cheese was the answer to their troubles.  I'm not totally convinced, but it's worth a try!

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My daughter has deep crevices in her teeth and started with cavities at a very young age. 

 

Sealants helped a lot. So does using a Phillips Sonic Care toothbrush--one of the pricier ones, not the $30 version. 

 

I also agree with skimomma as to the different philosophies. My daughter's dentist doesn't take a wait and see approach with my daughter. 

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1) Try a different dentist. I've had a dentist say my kid had 2 cavities, which he had trouble filling (my kid had a strong gag reflex), refer to a pediatric dentist, which said 10 cavities. So, I ran away from that (didn't have any work done). Then, a year later (I know, I know, I should've done something sooner) we went to another pediatric dentist, and the cavity count was 6. Obviously, the first pediatric dentist was making stuff up.

 

2) Bacterial count. There are mouth rinses or something that can tackle some of the worst bacteria (there are several different kinds of bacteria that cause cavities, and some are much worse than others). The mouth rinses are allegedly really gross though, so for a little kid that may not be practical, but it's not something that has to be done every day - you do them for a while, and then you don't for a while, and then do them for a while, and then don't, and if you can get the number of new cavities down eventually you won't need to do the rinse again. (I know a PP mentioned a special toothpaste, which I assume is the high fluoride toothpaste - there are toothpastes that have a much higher percentage of fluoride than you can buy OTC - that would be an option too, but that wouldn't kill the bad bacteria). Btw, Listerine and similar OTC mouthwashes don't really help reduce cavities, partially because the alcohol dries out your mouth (fluoride rinses are good though).

 

3) Saliva. If you don't make enough saliva, your odds of getting cavities skyrockets. So, find out if the kids make enough saliva, and if not, talk to dentist/doctor about how to get them to make more saliva.

 

4) Reduce the number of times they eat per day, especially things that contain any kinds of carbs. Potato chips for example are one of the worst things, because they're carby and really stick to your teeth, but most people don't think of potato chips as causing cavities.

 

When looking for a new dentist, you could ask if the dentist uses CAMBRA - CAries Management By Risk Assesment.

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DS was born with poor enamel on his baby teeth. One thing that worked for us in reducing cavities was to have him eat a small cube of cheese before bed. A nice sharp cheese to help keep the mouth moist. This helped curb his cavities. Nothing else would help him including the sealants as he would get cavities below the gum line on certain teeth.

 

On the bright side, his adult teeth are great. The enamel is good and his teeth are strong.

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Maybe second opinion if you suspect scamming, but honestly, some kids do get cavities very easily. Like the dentist says he's watching a spot between two teeth and the next month dd loses one of the teeth (baby tooth) and you can physically see the cavity in both that tooth and the one behind, clearly much bigger than it probably was when the dentist was just watching it. Any spot they watch in youngest typically turns into a cavity by the next visit, sometimes before as in the lost tooth example above. She now has white demineralization spots in some places from having braces and two turned into cavities since getting braces off in April. These are on the front surface of side teeth--they took pictures to show me the cavities. With this particular kid, I want them to just fill even small cavities immediately--no watching, as that just becomes watching cavities get bigger! But I absolutely trust this dentist. As I said, my oldest dd has no cavities at 19 and other dd as some but not like her little sister.

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Dentists vary a lot in what they will fill. When my oldest was 8, we needed to find him a new dentist. I went to three dentists to see what they said he needed.

 

Dentist 1: 4 crowns, seal a few teeth, plus a few other fillings

Dentist 2: 7 crowns plus a few other fillings

Dentist 3: 2 crowns plus 2-3 fillings. She said the other teeth the other dentists wanted to fill or crown had pre-cavities but didn't need treatment yet. She is more conservative and will tell us which teeth will probably fall out before truly needing to be filled. She said the best way to guarantee the need for future dental work was to drill and fill everything that might turn into a cavitiy instead of seeing if the tooth remineralizes enough to be stable instead of turning into an official cavity.

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My poor oldest child had cavities every visit it seemed. He brushed so carefully and didn't eat much sugar and I had no idea what was going on. I have never had a cavity so my experience was not with dentists over diagnosing and I trusted everything they said. We moved just as my younger girls were getting to the dentist age and they have never had a cavity. None of them. My oldest has also never had any cavities since moving to a new dentist. Perhaps there's something in that dentist's water. 

 

It can be genetics but if you are being careful with the brushing and all of your children's teeth have cavities (are they complaining of pain?) then I would get a 2nd opinion from somewhere that does not specialize in children. I have had the worst experiences with professional ethics with both chain children's dentists that we have been to. 

Edited by Paige
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Wait and see works a lot better in permanent teeth.  Anatomy in baby teeth is a lot different. Decay runs away quickly in baby teeth.  If you trust your dentist, stick with him.

 

I have 2/6 kids that had/have poorly formed enamel in primary teeth.  We use fluoride gel with a q tip for our 3 year old.  His enamel problem showed up as soon as his baby molars did. :(  His cavities are in all 8 baby molars.  The other child had 4 teeth affected.  He never needed dental work because we were so proactive with the fluoride gel.  The youngest will not be so lucky. :(

 

Of course, avoid soda,excessive candy, excessive juice.  Anything sweet and sticky such as fruit snacks should be limited.  

 

Sealants don't work very well in baby molars, but are a great prevention in adult teeth.

 

I *know* our situation is developmental and not due to habits.  I do feel for families that are ridiculed for their kids' dental problems.  I have so much more compassion.  We were taught that habits were the cause of dental problems most of the time.  I do not believe that now.

 

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A couple things:

 

Xylitol hasn't been shown to be the preventive that it was hoped it would be

 

http://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2015-archive/march/new-research-shows-clinical-evidence-unclear-on-effects-of-xylitol-products-preventing-dental-carie

 

There just isn't any evidence that it does what I hoped it did.  I still give my kids zellie mints and/or gum, but that is because it doesn't promote decay. I no longer think of it as a preventative.

 

some dentists are much, much more aggressive about filling caries in baby teeth. It's a money maker for them.  My family dentist is very, very conservative and doesn't drill in kids unless there is no other choice. It is highly likely that it will fall out before the spot becomes a problem. So you might want a second opinion. My younger son was born with some unenamaled spots on his baby teeth. My dentist kept an eye on them and didn't do a thing.  The teeth fell out naturally and were never drilled.  We do see the dentist every 6 months, so he was able to keep a close eye on them.

 

 

 

fluoride is a help.  We don't have fluoridated drinking water so I purchase a daily fluoride rinse at the store.  I use one by Listerine that is specifically made for children.  I also get the fluoride treatment every 6 months at the dentist. It is done last and they can't eat or drink for 30 mins.

 

I also have everyone in the house use Cloysis.  It is a mouthrinse that is an antiseptic, but it doesn't burn etc.  It was suggested to my dh who has extensive gingivitis. When we started buying it years ago it was very expensive. I can find it much cheaper these days on Amazon and we have a standing order.  It made a huge difference for my dh's gum health so we all use it.  I have the kids use the fluoride rinse before bed and the cloysis after the morning brushing.  If they miss it in the morning, I have them use the cloysis after the bedtime brushing and then follow it with the lysterine rinse. I want the flouride to stay on their teeth as long as possible

 

And finally, my kids have sealants on their teeth. My dentist does it for free so I see no reason not to.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/20/upshot/defending-your-childrens-teeth-and-dentists-the-value-of-sealants.html?_r=0

 

Even with having baby teeth that had some major areas with no enamel, my kid's adult teeth are totally cavity free. They have never had a baby tooth drilled.

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Oh, we've seen far less cavities since we had everyone switch to sonicare toothbrushes. I get the cheap $40is ones that you can change the batteries yourself rather than the $120 rechargable ones.  Those don't seem to last more than a few years here, whereas the cheap ones last for 5 years or so.

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Oh, we've seen far less cavities since we had everyone switch to sonicare toothbrushes. I get the cheap $40is ones that you can change the batteries yourself rather than the $120 rechargable ones.  Those don't seem to last more than a few years here, whereas the cheap ones last for 5 years or so.

 

I have found the same thing with those toothbrushes.  The cheaper ones last as long or longer.  They also sell replacement brushes for those battery operated ones.

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My fil is a dentist. As someone else mentioned, carbs are a big factor. Things like bread and pretzels really stick to the gums and teeth. I could tell a huge difference in my dental health when I did keto. I'm not saying you have to eliminate carbs completely, but scaling back to maybe 100g a day might be worth experimenting with.

 

Cutting out snacking, using an electric toothbrush, fluoride, and getting sealants are all good ideas. Also, regular cleanings every six months if you can afford it. But my fil will be the first to tell you that genetics play a primary role, so don't feel like it's a moral failing if lifestyle changes just aren't enough.

Edited by Epicurean
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My oldest son had an almost cavity at a young age - we used a high strength tooth moose religiously for a while. Next appointment the dentist said no cavities at all.

 

We also have fluoridated water, use sensodyne toothpaste and get the adult molars sealed asap. Never had to fill a kid's tooth yet, and I had a fair few fillings at their ages.

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At this point, it's probably genetic. I'd still advise you to do three things. First, make sure you rinse with water after eating or drinking anything acidic but before you brush your teeth, or if it's going to be a while before you brush. Second, regular cleanings - at least twice a year. Third, if you have another child, make sure you don't do that thing where you clean their pacifier in your mouth and then pass it to them, or prechew some food that isn't soft enough. You want to make sure you limit how much transmission there is of cavity-causing germs from you to them.

 

we used a high strength tooth moose religiously for a while.

 

Tooth moose? Funniest typo I've ever seen, but what were you planning to type?

 

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At this point, it's probably genetic. I'd still advise you to do three things. First, make sure you rinse with water after eating or drinking anything acidic but before you brush your teeth, or if it's going to be a while before you brush. Second, regular cleanings - at least twice a year. Third, if you have another child, make sure you don't do that thing where you clean their pacifier in your mouth and then pass it to them, or prechew some food that isn't soft enough. You want to make sure you limit how much transmission there is of cavity-causing germs from you to them.

 

 

Tooth moose? Funniest typo I've ever seen, but what were you planning to type?

 

I assume she means a fluoridated mousse.  That is what my family dentist uses for the fluoride treatments. 

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We swish (then swallow) nano minerals called bone support. Basically it's nano sized calcium and magnesium. It tastes like water so it's not offensive to my super picky kid, and the nano size makes it 100% absorbable to your body. I feel a difference after I take it, as in my teeth feel stronger. That, and a flouride tablet has helped us to dodge any cavities so far.

Also , I've upgraded the quality of our dairy (pasture raised- grass fed). I also sneak in bone broth in her diet whenever I can. If you Google Weston Price you can dive down a rabbit hole of information about nutrition and dental health. Good Luck!

Edited by Learning fun
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We have two kids who are prone to cavities; what we did when they first appeared (at 6 months, well before anyone was giving them sugary foods or drinks), we applied a xylitol gel something like 20 times a day - just every time I thought of it, all day.  We did this for months, then again for a week or so every few months.  That stopped the progress of the bacteria (at least that is what I am given to understand) and they never got more than those first ones on the front teeth.

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Be VERY careful with the xylitol if you also have pets - it is extremely toxic to some animals (dogs).  If your kids are as messy as mine, you might want to make a xylitol mouthwash instead of having something around the house that's easy to spill.

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My dentist has us put MI Paste on teeth that are starting to demineralize. We've been doing it for maybe 1.5 years and it seems to have helped stabilize some areas and prevent them from getting worse. The paste is $20-25 from the dentist and one tube is enough for two people for six months.

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What has worked in our house....Act every night at bedtime....our ds didn't have a cavity until he was 18 and it was tiny.

 

As a little person he had to have crowns/filling because of night nursing...I wanted to make sure when his adult teeth came in we kept them perfect.  I had the dentist show me how to brush his teeth, floss and we added Act when he was small.  I worked out great for us! 

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Check for low saliva production and mouth breathing. Dry mouth = cavities. DH has horrible teeth, and it comes from the fact that he suffers from low saliva production (which also causes salivary stones). For saliva production a quick fix is to suck on something really sour to stimulate the gland. For mouth breathing you'll need to go to an ENT.

 

Check for calcium and Vit D intake. If that's okay, maybe try Vit K-MK4. Thorne lab sells drops on Amazon, but it still isn't cheap. The idea with K-MK4 is that it causes the calcium to go, and stay, where it is supposed to. Obviously, nutritional support is a long-term venture.

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