A pediatric dentist outlines his snacking plan to prevent cavities in this debut consumer health guide.
“Carb-rich foods such as crackers plus time on teeth equals cavities. It’s that simple,” says Seattle-based Lucas, who seeks to help parents avoid “surprise cavities,” even achieve “zero cavities,” in children in this diet-focused prevention guide. He details the science behind his assertions, noting that “sticky” carbs are the biggest culprits in leaving behind large quantities of simple carbohydrates on the teeth. Interacting with tooth and mouth bacteria, they can produce lactic acid that can lead to cavities. He advises parents not to allow their children to graze or sip on carbs all day (ditch the pretzels, crackers, even juice-filled sippy cups) but instead encourage them to eat six more contained “minimeals,” with water the only beverage allowed between repasts. Parents should also be involved in the daily brushing of their children’s teeth until age 6 or 7, starting with a 20-second scrub with nonfluoride toothpaste or just water for the under age 2 group. Then parents should progress to fluoride toothpaste, not overdoing the fluoride (grain-sized amount is enough), being sure to floss when a child’s baby teeth start touching. Lucas emphasizes that the health of baby teeth is important, with back molars, for example, often not falling out until age 12. Decay/extraction-causing problems in adult tooth formation can be stressful and costly. He concludes his book with a list of reference sources and points to additional material on his website, thedentistdad.com. Lucas combines being a dentist and parent to compelling effect in this guide. He provides convincing research that “sticky” carbs are the No. 1 cavity problem, with crackers surprisingly worse than caramels, and shares how he realistically enforces this program with his own children. He also includes a handy infographic summarizing his tips. His narrative can be a bit repetitive as well as scientific at times, with molecule sketches, for example, not particularly illuminating to a lay reader. Overall, however, Lucas offers parents a solid plan to get more proactive regarding their children’s teeth.
Passionate, helpful primer about maintaining children’s dental health from a parent and expert.