You read that title correctly. I know. I, too, wondered how chocolate and cavities could coexist. So if you’re ready for the answer, keep reading. Dr. Lucas is a pediatric dentist and father of three, so if his education isn’t enough he also has the practical experience to back up what he teaches us in his book, More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free.
Parents and dentists are often baffled when children in their care, who brush often, have enough fluoride, and don’t eat sugary treats, get cavities. Dr. Lucas says the reason he wrote this book is so “parents who are motivated to keep their children cavity-free are not accidentally surprised when their child gets cavities.” When I read books like this one, written as a guidebook for improvement of something I’m learning, I skip around. This book is one of those books, very easy to read whether following a sequential path through the four unique sections or skipping about to whatever topic is most interesting right now. Besides parents, grandparents and anyone else concerned about a child’s cavities, this book is also written as a resource for dentists.
To summarize the book, though, let’s go through the sections and draw a few highlights from each.
Baby Teeth Matter
Genetics plays a role but does not cause cavities. Remember that you can’t control genetics but you can control the likelihood that cavities will form. Statistics show an increase in cavities in baby teeth over the past thirty years. The culprit is often thought to be weak enamel, but Dr. Lucas doesn’t buy it. Instead he proves that when it comes to cavity prevention, it’s diet, not genetics that make all the difference. Regardless of the genetic predisposition to cavities, the same bacteriologic process is responsible for forming cavities. Yes, brushing teeth twice a day is important, but focusing on diet is the game changer. Become an advocate of proactive cavity prevention from the time teeth first appear.
Cavities Have a Pattern of Formation
You can say it. Yuck! This was all new information to me and now, even if I didn’t want to read the book, I’m totally hooked. The author goes into an excellent dissertation on the entire process, but here’s the skinny version.
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Bacteria grow on teeth, forming plaque.
Bacteria beak down large quantities of simple carbohydrates into lactic acid.
Lactic acid is one of the bacterial waste products and creates an acidic environment that causes enamel to demineralize – if it sits on the tooth for too long.
Saliva helps to remineralize tooth enamel, but it’s a very long process taking several hours.[/message][su_spacer]
Simple carbohydrates in high quantities produce lactic acid which stays on the teeth.
Drinking water is beneficial because it helps rinse bacteria from the teeth.
Recall that saliva is the equalizer. It rinses away acid and remineralizes the tooth with calcium and phosphorus, vital minerals which repair the enamel before damage occurs. Think of it this way: Grazing or snacking often, especially on carbohydrates, continually coats the teeth and produces so much acid, saliva is unable to keep up.
“Cavities are 100% preventable.” Let me add here that Dr. Lucas goes into a much deeper and succinct explanation for his recommendations for preventing cavities in teeth from the time of the first tooth. What you read here is a brief summary of the principles, albeit a strategy for cavity-free teeth.[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#F0F0F0 ” end_color=”#F0F0F0 ” border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]
Three Principles of Cavity Prevention – and a couple takeaways from each
Brush teeth every night to remove bacteria. Brushing at night is the most important.
Parents should help children brush their teeth until they have the dexterity of doing it themselves. Dr. Lucas suggest that this pretty much coincides with when children are also able to tie their own shoes.
After brushing, nothing else to eat or drink except water.
Never put babies to bed and leave their bottle in bed with them. Think about it. Having a bottle that can be sipped on throughout the night means perpetual coating of teeth with little chance for saliva to rinse it away.
Have organized eating; don’t graze all day.
Grazing is eating anything except water more often than every two hours. “Grazing ensures teeth stay coated in cavity-producing acid for too many hours a day.”
The best plan overall for good health and good teeth is eating every two to three hours, with water to drink in between.
Eat teeth-friendly food
“Eat more chocolate and fewer crackers.” I know. How does that work? The substantial evidence researched and written into the chapters of this book are eye-opening. While too much to share here, hopefully this recap will make sense. Crackers are the common go-to snack food for children. What are crackers comprised of? Right! Simple carbohydrates, easily converted to sugar, coats the teeth, creates lactic acid, creates cavities. A small piece of 70% dark chocolate has a higher fat content and lower carbohydrate content. Dark chocolate also has a chemical component that strengthens tooth enamel. Warning: This does not apply to milk chocolate. Sorry.[/message][su_spacer]
This book was written by a dentist with a degree in biochemistry and whose specialty is pediatrics. Dr. Roger Lucas is also a father. His advice is tried and true experientially through his own children and his patients. His advice is also scientifically sound. This text is the handbook for parents who don’t want their children to go through the trauma of dental work, and by following the advice filling the pages of this book, they won’t have to.
Dr. Lucas offers tips and solid advice for families who are willing to eat a nutritious diet, drink water, and brush teeth every night. From 23 tips to make brushing fun, to listing foods that never cause cavities, to emotional intelligence and cavity prevention, this book packages knowledge on all those topics and more. A brief look at the book cover indicates that what the author promotes for cavity-free kids, “works for adults too!”