More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free by Roger W. Lucas, DDS aka The Dentist Dad.
There are three books that I think every person interested in health mouths should have and this is now one of them. The other two are Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats by Sally Morrell Fallon and Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition, 2nd Edition (You can follow any of those book links to do a little affiliate shopping on Amazon. Yippee!)
More Chocolate, No Cavities breaks down the mystery of why our youth are in a “dental decay epidemic” and how diet can fix 95 to 100% of all cavities. He says it’s basically about math.
Food remnants decay on teeth and are eaten by bacteria which create lactic acid. The lactic acid, if left on the teeth, begins to demineralize—eat away—the tooth. The counter force is saliva which carries new minerals to remineralize—or fix—the microscopic holes. Thus if you don’t eat foods that turn into lactic acid, or you don’t let the lactic acid stay on your teeth, then the saliva will do its job. I have turned to other books for more help in understanding how to increase the quantity and quality of saliva—something that degrades as we age—but in the case of a child then most likely as long as they are eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, the saliva will be ample and robust enough to do the job.
Some foods are worse for tooth decay than others. He says that raw vegetable and pure chicken are never going to rot your teeth while fruit juice and crackers will start the process with a vengeance. It’s not just whether the food will be turned into lactic acid and how fast, it’s also the “stickiness” of the food. That’s why crackers are worse than bread: crackers mixed with saliva or water or juice create a plaster-like effect that causes crackers to stick badly to teeth, similar with sticky candy and dried fruits. Dr. Lucas goes so far as to call crackers insidious. He says that if he were to choose having crackers in the house versus flossing, he’d always choose the former. Indeed, he says that flossing isn’t proven to prevent cavities, but do it anyway since your child will likely get breakfast cereal, crackers, or pretzels someday without you knowing.
Multiply the food by the time the food is on the teeth. Most foods will stay on your teeth long enough for the bad bacteria to start eating the sugar and carbs. The result is lactic acid that eats aways at the tooth, which is mainly made up of calcium and phosphorous. If there was nothing on the teeth for the bad bacteria to eat, then the acid wouldn’t form and the tooth wouldn’t decay. Thus, if we can avoid eating foods with sugars or carbs or remove sugar or carbs immediately, this shouldn’t be a problem. The key to the first is knowing which foods are okay. And the key to the second is remember to swish with water after eating, avoiding sticky foods that can’t easily be swished away, and avoiding snacking. Dr Lucas considers those snack traps that help kids eat little crackers like things all day long and sippy cups which insure they can sip on milk or juice all day long a plague. They are likely one reason that the rise in cavities in two and three year old children has been the highest of all age groups. Don’t do it! Similarly, after age 18 months letting your child drink milk or formula at night or throughout the day will have the same effect.
And divide by the power of the saliva to rebuild. After the food debris is removed, saliva can remineralize your teeth. Lactic acid stays on the teeth for about 20 minutes unless removed, in that time it can de-mineralize, start to eat away, at the teeth. The saliva, however, is the rebuilder, filling in these microscopic little holes where the minerals get eroded from the acids. Saliva moving over and around your teeth start to patch the minerals back into these microscopic holes. Tooth decay only starts to happen when this process gets out of balance.
Dr. Lucas says it’s possible to keep your child cavity free—and help turn around older children and adults—through these three principles:
- Eat teeth friendly foods. Fat, protein, and fiver do not cause cavities. Simple and processed carbohydrates do. You are better feeding your child 70- percent dark chlorate than a pretzel, cracker, or handful of raisins.
- Promote organized eating instead of grazing. NO matter how much you brush and floss, if your child is allowed to sip formula or juice all day long he will get cavities. carb-rich foods, plus time on teeth equals cavities. He recommends six mini-meals a day and feeding your child only at these organized meal and snack times with nothing but water in between.
- Brush and floss teeth to remove bacteria. Bacteria in the mouth breaks down simple carbs into cavity-busing lactic acid. Until at least age 5 or 6, he recommends parents helping children brush teeth properly. He says the amount of time at a young age is less important than the quality and that they need a perfect brushing before bedtime with nothing but water afterwards. You only need to floss the teeth that are touching and you can reuse those little flossers, just like a toothbrush.
Learn more about Dr. Lucas at thedentistdad.com