Dr. Roger Lucas, DDS has created a new way of thinking about cavity prevention that is designed for real-life. 

We would like to share his article about great ideas for healthy teeth snacks to help prevent tooth decay.

Nutrition and preventing cavities are linked… kind of, but not 100%.

It happens to me far too often… I tell a parent their child has eight cavities at age four or five. The parent tells me what nutritious diet they gave their child. They avoided sugar like the plague. But, because they weren’t aware of how foods affect the teeth, their child accidentally has cavities, despite avoiding sugar.

Let’s discuss why nutrition and cavities aren’t 100% linked:

A variety of whole foods is always better for your teeth than processed foods.

The most important variables that determine whether a snack food is going to cause cavities or not are:

1) Containing carbohydrates
2) How long the food stays stuck on the teeth
3) How fast the food is usually consumed

Let’s compare fresh fruit to dried fruit.

An apple
1) Contains carbohydrates
2) Doesn’t stay on the teeth for long because it is crunchy
3) Usually is eaten within 5 minutes

So, a fresh apple is on the “good list” for teeth, even though it contains sugar. Just don’t nibble on it 8 times a day, and your teeth will be fine.

A freeze-dried apple
1) Contains carbohydrates
2) Stays on the teeth for too long
3) Can be carried around for 30 minutes

So, dried fruit is worse for your teeth because it is stickier, and more likely to be carried around.

The same is true for bread and crackers. The starch in bread isn’t as sticky as a cracker. Just like fresh fruit is better than dried fruit, fresh bread is better than dried bread (a cracker).

Yes, my list has ice cream on it. Not because you should give it to your kids all of the time, but because I like to give practical advice. Because cavities are based mostly on time, your child’s teeth are actually better off to have ice cream once a day, instead of sticky crackers three times a day, because of the time factor. Bacteria can’t tell whether sugar is from a smoothie or ice cream. As a dad… I know you will give your child sweets occasionally, so might as well do what a dentist dad does.

Dentists… please feel free to hand this snack guide out to patients. It is a great place to start talking teeth, and my diet-based approach has made my practice so much more enjoyable now that I can actually help parents prevent cavities without surprises.