October 1, 2023
More Chocolate, No Cavities – Part 3
The first two parts of Dr. Lucas’ book discuss the topics or how cavities are formed and the most common myths about cavities. In the third part of his book he teaches his readers how to prevent cavities from forming on your child’s baby teeth, other than trying to stay away from sticky starches. Dr. Lucas has three principles that he suggests to his readers to prevent cavities.
The first principle that he discusses is to “Brush teeth every night to remove bacteria.” This seems like a no-brainer, right? For adults it might be a “no brainer,” but for our children it’s a lot harder to remember to brush, or even do a good job brushing. Dr. Lucas suggests that our children “Have a ‘perfect’ brushing with the help from a parent once every twenty-four hours.” He suggests that this be done before bedtime since your child probably won’t be eating or drinking anything other than water right before bed. As parents we want to keep our child cavity-free, that is why he recommends that as parents, we brush our child’s teeth once a day for kids five and under, but he does suggest to check and make sure they did a good job. Dr. Lucas has a video that helps us learn how to brush our child’s teeth more effectively. (Visit www.thedentistdad.com/howtobrush to watch).
Some children have a harder time getting their teeth brushed. I know I have had my fair share of battles when it comes to brushing my 3-year-olds teeth. He shares a list of suggestions on how to make it easier:
As you can see he has a lot of suggestions on how to make teeth brushing easier. I have tried a few of these and they have helped to make bedtime brushing less painful.
The second principle that he discusses is “Don’t graze or sip; have six ‘mini-meals’ a day and water in between. These can be organized meals, or you can make sure your child is eating every 2-3 hours. “Grazing [is] eating or drinking anything more frequently than every two hours.” He suggests this because the acid that occurs when we eat lasts for 20 minutes, and if our children are grazing all day long, then their teeth are continually being exposed to the harmful acid. The organized meals, or snacks, for your child, should be good for your teeth. Dr. Lucas does recommend staying away from processed crackers and dry cereal; these will stick to their teeth. If you need ideas for tooth-healthy snacks, refer to one of our older posts “Foods For A Healthy Smile”.
Dr. Lucas talks about “Special Food and Treats,” he doesn’t want you to deprive your child of foods like crackers and candy or juice and chocolate milk, he just doesn’t want you to feed it to your child all day long. It’s a special treat, so your child shouldn’t get it all of the time, or else it isn’t “special” anymore. He also urges parents to teach their children to drink water when they are thirsty. Water is the best thing for teeth; it helps wash away food and acid. Sugary drinks can cause other problems besides cavities, like raising blood sugar for example.
His third principle is “Eat more dark chocolate and fewer crackers.” This seems like a joke, kind of like the title of this book, but Dr. Lucas makes some valid arguments as to why dark chocolate is better than crackers. His main goal with this principle is to help teach parents how to make better choices for their children when it comes to snack time. Follow this link to get his guide to choosing snacks that won’t cause cavities, Tooth Snack Guide. If your child won’t eat the ones that won’t cause cavities, make sure they are drinking water with their snacks and after, and if you want you can even help them brush their teeth when they are done. Foods that never cause cavities are usually high in protein or fats. There are also beverages that will cause cavities, and the main take away that I got was, any drink containing sugars is going to be harmful to teeth, even milk can be if it is being consumed all day long.
What about the dark chocolate? “Dark chocolate has a higher fat content and therefore a lower carbohydrate concentration relative to crackers.” He suggests 70% dark chocolate because the fat content is higher than the amount of sugar, so the darker the chocolate the better it is for your teeth. He is not recommending that you feed your children or yourself dark chocolate all day long, rather let it be a treat for them when they want something sweet or ask for crackers.
You’re probably thinking, “What about flossing? Shouldn’t we be worried about flossing our child’s teeth?” Dr. Lucas calls this Principle Zero. Flossing is important and should be started once baby teeth begin to touch. He believes that flossing isn’t as important as brushing, but if you floss in addition to brushing you can help decrease the amount of bacteria on your teeth. This is why he recommends flossing once teeth touch because it will be much harder to get food and bacteria out from those spaces.
Dr. Lucas has great insight on how to help us keep our children cavity-free. It may take some getting used to for both you and your children, but it would be worth it, in the long run, to help your children stay cavity-free, or prevent more. If you are curious and want more information from Dr. Lucas visit TheDentistDad.com to get learn more.
Lucas, DDS, Roger W. More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. (Pages 55, 65-67, 70 and 113-114)