Although we’re not totally health food fiends, we do try to serve healthy snacks to our kids. When we’re at sports events (practice & games) other families often have cookies, chips, fruit rolls, etc. My daughter loves this stuff and will ask for some or often it is offered to her. I’ve told her she needs to ask me first if she can have something but she can’t resist. I don’t mind the occasional treat, but this is several times a week, it’s too much. Any ideas?

—Cavity Conscious

Cavity Conscious,

I think a multi-level approach is the way to go here. Have a family meeting and decide together what snacks are acceptable (go for the lesser of evils, like fruit rolls), how much of those, and then how often a “treat” food, like a cookie, or chips can be eaten and how much of that. Develop a system of tickets, so that your daughter has to give you a ticket for a certain item. Once the ticket is gone, that’s it. Bring protein type snacks, like nuts, cheese or tofu, for her to eat right after a sweet to neutralize the sugar in her system. Follow that up with carrot or apple slices to clean her teeth. Teach her how to swish and spit at the drinking fountain, or swish and swallow some water to help dislodge any debris left on her teeth. If she won’t swallow gum try one of those tooth brushing one’s at the event too. Also set up an agreement that once she gets home she’ll floss, brush well, or use a water pick. Visit the dentist regularly.

If you make sure the message of love gets through to her about your concerns and find solutions together that focus on moderation and meeting everyone’s needs, I’m confident you can both come out of this happy with most importantly, your relationship intact. The bottom line: a good relationship with your daughter is more important than anything else, including a cavity or two.