As with other aspects of your child’s diet, you want to provide healthy choices that your kids like in their school lunches. The beverages and foods you send in lunch boxes or bags will affect their dental health, as well as their overall health. Check out our tips for teeth-healthy school lunches to help keep your child’s smile in great shape.
If you have any questions about our advice, give us a call at 972-380-8105. It’s also not too late to schedule a dental exam for your child. It’s a good idea to get an exam out of the way before sports, homework, clubs, and other school activities really ramp up. We may also suggest preventive treatments like dental sealants or fluoride to help keep your child’s teeth cavity-free.
3 Do’s for Teeth-Healthy School Lunches
Fortunately it’s not too tough to send foods that are good for your child’s teeth. Some may even be snacks they are accustomed to eating at home. Three of the top choices are:
Most kids like cheese sticks, yogurt, and similar snacks. It’s a good thing, since these dairy products are great choices for school lunches. Dairy foods contain calcium, phosphate, and casein. All of these substances not only help strengthen tooth enamel, they can actually help repair it – which means they have the ability to stop very small cavities in their tracks.
In addition, dairy foods help balance the pH level in your child’s mouth, making it less appealing to acids and bacteria. Eating them after consuming sweets can even help neutralize the sugar!
Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Some foods act almost like a natural “toothbrush,” thanks to their crunchy textures. In addition, they contain lots of moisture, which helps wash away bacteria that causes decay. Because of this, we recommend packing crisp celery, carrots, and apples for teeth-healthy school lunches.
You can fill celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter to make it more appealing to kids. Send a snack cup of peanut butter for dunking apple wedges too.
Sticky foods generally aren’t good for your child’s teeth. For every rule, there’s an exception though. In this case, it looks like raisins. University of Chicago researchers found that raisins contain substances called phytochemicals that suppress several kinds of bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Raisins are full of other good things too, including fiber, calcium, and iron.
3 Dental Health Don’ts
To keep your children’s teeth healthy, try to avoid:
It bothers us that sports drinks are marketed as a healthy choice. Most sports drinks contain added sugars and flavors. Some of them have as much sugar as a candy bar! Even worse, they are highly acidic so they weaken tooth enamel. The effect on your child’s teeth is similar to a sugary soda.
Juices, which are also marketed as a healthy alternative to soda, also typically contain lots of extra sugar and acids. For teeth-healthy school lunches, choose water, milk, or unsweeted tea instead.
Savory snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers are often seen as a better choice than sweets. Unfortunately starchy foods made with white flour are very high in carbohydrates, and they quickly break down into sugars in your child’s mouth.
Look for alternatives to traditional potato chips such as crunchy snacks made from vegetables like carrots, beets, and peas. They’ll satisfy your child’s taste for salt and spices without all of the starch. Bonus: they contain more vitamins than snacks made from potatoes.
Like many of us, kids like a sweet treat to finish their meal. Avoid sending sticky sweets in their lunch, especially sour ones. They cling to teeth, giving them plenty of time to damage the enamel. Their ingredients pose a double threat. The acid in them eats away at tooth enamel, while the sugar attracts cavity-causing bacteria.
Chocolate is one of your best choices, especially if it’s in small portions like chocolate kisses or squares. Snack-size pudding is good too. Unlike sticky treats, chocolate melts quickly and is quickly washed away by saliva. Dark chocolate even contains antioxidants, which prevent bacteria from turning into damaging acids.
If you have questions about our tips for teeth-healthy school lunches or want to schedule an appointment for your child, call 1st in Smiles at 972-380-8105.