Pick the right teeth-friendly food so your child’s smile lasts throughout the school year.
Parents: have you ever been so excited for school to start? Summer break is over and it’s time for the kids to head back to school. No more taking care of summer camp, summer jobs or summer sunburns, but it’s still important to take care of your children’s oral health while they are at school. Most kids don’t bring toothbrushes to school and might not even be able to chew sugar-free gum after lunch, so it’s important that their lunchbox holds the key to teeth-friendly snacks.
Snacking and consuming sugar or sweet drinks promote tooth decay, and it all starts with bacteria. Bacteria live in our mouths and when we feast, so do bacteria. Bacteria breaks down sugars and starches left on the teeth, which leads to the formation of plaque and acid. Acid created by bacteria can damage the teeth if left on the tooth surface for at least 20 minutes, so the window for thwarting cavities is very small!
When packing your child’s lunch for the day, avoid foods that contain a high level of sugars and starches, such as candies, mints, cookies, pastries, sodas and juices. If you do want to include a treat for your sweet, make sure it’s eaten along with their meal and not as a snack after lunch. More saliva is usually generated around mealtime, which makes it easier for food to be washed away from tooth surfaces.
Sugary foods are obvious culprits but sticky, chewy snacks can also lead to tooth decay. Foods like granola bars, raisins, oatmeal and peanut butter tend to hang on to teeth and are not easily washed away by saliva. But, healthy foods can sometimes fall into this category so don’t avoid these foods, just make sure to have your child drink water afterward, or floss.
However, there are plenty of delicious, healthy and teeth-friendly foods that you child will enjoy! Fruits and vegetables with high water content are a great option and include melons, pears, celery and cucumbers. Cheese is also a great option because it triggers the flow of saliva, and aged cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss and Monterey jack are great choices. Crisp fruits and raw vegetables like apples, carrots and celery are not only healthy, but they help to clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath. Water is also incredibly essential for not only hydration but also rinsing out your mouth after eating.
In general, try your best to encourage your child to avoid snacking. Snacking between meals limits the amount of time saliva has to wash away food. This means more food remains in the mouth for bacteria to process. Also, if your child can brush, floss or chew sugar-free gum, make sure they do so within 20 minutes of eating because that will help prevent the bacteria from enjoying any leftover food particles. If these options aren’t available, have your child rinse with water after eating or drinking any sugary drinks. Also, make sure their diet includes food that builds strong teeth, such as broccoli, plain yogurt and milk.
Most importantly, remember to visit the dentist regularly! Having regularly scheduled check-ups will help to monitor your child’s dental health and make sure that their teeth are healthy and long-lasting. These easy steps will make sure their smile is great for their graduation pictures!