It’s time for kids to head back to school! In addition to purchasing supplies and school clothes, scheduling extra-curricular activities, and meeting teachers, you also need to get back to packing lunches. You want your child to have a satisfying, healthy lunch, but one thing you may forget is your child’s dental health. Your child won’t have access to floss or a toothbrush, most likely, so it’s important to pack items that support healthy teeth and gums throughout the day. To help you get started, our Fuquay Varina family dentist is sharing some tips on what to pack and what to avoid in your child’s lunch box.
Best Foods to Pack in Your Child’s Lunchbox
Fill up your child’s lunchbox with these items that support strong, healthy teeth and healthy gums.
Apples have a high water content to rinse your child’s teeth, plus they’re crunchy and have a high fiber content. This means that while your child is chewing them, the pieces are actually scrubbing your child’s teeth and removing plaque.
Yogurt, especially plain yogurt or light yogurt with no added sugar, is a great option to toss in your child’s lunch box. It’s high in calcium and phosphorus which strengthen and rebuild enamel and neutralize the acids that are produced by the bacteria in plaque to prevent damage and decay.
Like yogurt, string cheese (or cubes or slices) has calcium and phosphorous, and it neutralizes the acidity in your mouth. Plus, it doesn’t stick in crevices or between teeth and doesn’t break down into high amounts of starch that can feed bacteria in the mouth.
Carrots and Celery
Carrots and celery are high in water and scrub your teeth while you chew them, so it’s providing a similar function to apples by cleaning your child’s teeth while they eat. Celery is incredibly fibrous and can floss your child’s teeth while they eat (though obviously, celery shouldn’t be a substitute for nightly flossing), removing some of the food particles in hard-to-reach places.
While strawberries may be a surprising pick as they are high in acid and a sweeter fruit (meaning high in sugar), they contain malic acid, which is a natural teeth whitener. Plus, they are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and a healthy diet can support healthy teeth.
Worst Foods to Pack in Your Child’s Lunchbox
Now that you know what to pack, here are some things you’ll want to avoid putting in your child’s lunchbox as they can increase the risk of cavities. While we understand that everything in moderation is generally fine, the reason we don’t recommend them for lunchboxes in particular is because your child doesn’t have a quick, convenient way to brush their teeth after lunch. That means that the following foods will sit on their teeth for several hours which can be detrimental.
Fruit juice, whether it’s 100 percent juice or artificial, is still high in sugar and highly acidic, leading to an increased likelihood of cavities. Add a bottle of water or flavored water to their lunchbox instead.
Cookies and Snack Cakes
While they’re certainly tasty, they’re high in sugar and offer little to no nutritional value. Plus the extra sugar and ensuing crash may be a challenge for young children during school.
When making sandwiches, white bread is often the standard, but refined flour quickly breaks down into sugar once it’s been chewed. It sticks to the teeth and has a similar effect as cookies and candy in that it is producing sugar that is feeding plaque bacteria in the mouth. Choose 100 percent whole wheat for a healthy teeth option.
Raisins and Dried Fruit
Raisins and dried fruit may seem like a healthy snack or side dish for your child’s lunch, but they aren’t much better than chewy candy. Dried fruit has higher sugar content and these stick to the teeth for a long time which can damage enamel. Instead, swap raisins for grapes and other fresh fruits.
Schedule a Dental Checkup at Our Family Dental Office Today
Make sure your child starts the year off right with a dental checkup and professional cleaning. At Hamby Family Dental Center, we work with patients of all ages, including kids, providing comprehensive and compassionate care in a safe, comfortable environment. To schedule an appointment, call us today at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to get started.