As a pediatric dentist, I’d rather see your kids for annual checkups and cleanings than for cavity fillings. Here’s how to satisfy sweet cravings in a healthier way:
- Avoid sticky, chewy, gummy candies. Not all candy is created equal—these are the worst offenders, as they can get stuck in the mouth.
- Choose chocolate—but not just any chocolate. Dark chocolate (as opposed to milk chocolate) is usually the least processed, which makes it better for your teeth. Furthermore, dark chocolate is a high source of antioxidants.
- Swap the sweets. You’d be surprised how adventurous your kids will be. Satisfy their bellies with sweet but healthy afternoon snacks, like chocolate covered strawberries or ice cold watermelon slices.
- Stock up on sugar-free Xylitol lollipops. There are few pleasures as simple as a lollipop when you’re a kid. You don’t have to ban this classic sweet from your home. Sugar-free lollipops made with Xylitol don’t cause cavities, and in fact, stimulate saliva production to help wash teeth!
- If you do nothing else, avoid grazing. One big candy binge is better than consistent grazing over a period of hours, days, or weeks. Make sure your kids brush their teeth afterwards.
Dr. Adam Silevitch, DMD, is an attending pediatric dentist at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Silevitch is the chair of the Children’s Dental Health Committee of the New York County Dental Society and serves as the President of the New York Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. He served as chief resident while completing specialized postgraduate training in pediatric dentistry from Columbia University. An esteemed member of the dental community, Dr. Silevitch has done dental outreach in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. For New York City and Brooklyn residents, you can visit Dr. Silevitch at PDNYC.