The growth of teeth in babies begins from between 5 to 9 months and is usually completed around 20 to 30 months of age. The quality and strength of the teeth, in the opinion of Chinese medicine, depends upon two main factors: the strength of the Kidneys and a healthy digestive system.

The Kidneys play an important role in that they govern growth and development and also produce marrow and control the bones. Teeth are considered to be part of the bones in Chinese medicine and the Kidneys give nutrition to strengthen them. The production of strong, healthy teeth therefore relies upon the quality of the Kidney Essence, which is partly inherited from the parents and is nourished from the food that is consumed after birth.

As well as the Kidney Essence, the digestive system is very important in assisting in the growth of healthy teeth. Babies and young children have very weak digestive systems and care needs to be taken not to overload or put these delicate systems under pressure. Ensuring that babies are given food that is warm, bland and overcooked will aid in digestion and allow easier absorption of nutrients.

Consuming food and drink that contain too much sugar will not only rot the teeth but will also weaken the digestive system and potentially upset other functions within the body. Spicy foods should also be avoided as they can generate too much Heat internally.

Also important is that the child has a bowel movement every day. If the stool is very smelly, green or dark it indicates that there is too much Heat in the large intestine, which will also affect the mouth and teeth and can also cause mouth ulcers and toothache.

Some foods that will aid the digestive system and strengthen the Kidneys to produce healthy teeth are calcium (milk), eggs, fish, beef, bean curd, vegetables (especially green vegetables) and fruit.

During periods of teething, which can be accompanied by pain and fever, the child’s mouth should be kept clean and it is essential that they receive adequate rest. More water and fruit should be consumed whilst deep-fried, greasy and oily foods should be avoided.

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Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.