Health & Fitness

Help your child avoid cheese molars

The WBA heavyweight title fight in June 1997 always will be referred to as “The Bite Fight”: It’s when Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear. These days, kids are having a much tougher bite fight, as they develop so-called cheese molars -- that is, permanent teeth with a pale-yellow color and a compromised enamel coating. Also known as molar incisor hypomineralization, or MIH, this condition causes teeth to chip and break, and it makes them very sensitive to hot and cold.

For years, dentists and pediatricians have looked for a way to prevent this irreversible condition. Finally, a team of endocrinologists in Paris may have figured it out. They were able to trigger development of cheese molars in lab rats by experimenting with the effects of the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A -- BPA, which is found in plastics and on store receipts -- and the agricultural fungicide vinclozolin. So, avoiding those triggers may be the solution!

Vinclozolin is being phased out here; in 2006 it was banned in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. But BPA and its cousin, BPS, are widely used. So buy packaged goods in glass whenever possible, avoid handling receipts and wash hands after touching them, and opt for the safest plastics.

Safer choices include 1, 2, 4 and 5: 1 is nylon, safe for one-time use; 2 is high-density polyethylene; 4 is low-density polyethylene; and 5 is polypropylene.

Avoid using 3, 6 and 7: 3 is polyvinyl chloride (PVC); 6 is polystyrene (for Styrofoam); 7 includes toxic polycarbons and nontoxic compostable “green” plastics, made from corn, potatoes or rice.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.

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