It’s that time of year again for children to begin school. If you pack your children’s lunch, is the meal you’re preparing healthy from a dental standpoint? A healthy-looking lunch may be lacking in nutrients vital to the development of your child’s teeth and gums. Before you prepare another meal for your kid’s school lunch, read about what you should include and avoid for a balanced and healthy school lunch.
The Ideal School Lunch
The basic, homemade school lunch includes a sandwich, fruit, a bag of chips and a juice box. This is a fairly nutritious meal, but how might each of these be improved?
Sandwich – Whatever sandwich you prepare – whether it be PB&J or ham and cheese – use whole wheat bread. White bread is made from refined flour that breaks down into sugar. Essentially, it’s just as bad for your teeth as a sugary treat. Like sugar, refined flour converts into lactic acid when it mixes with saliva. Lactic acid is the culprit responsible for tooth enamel erosion.
Fruit – Obviously, fruit is healthy, so we suggest you add fruit to your child’s lunch. However, due to the sugar content, vegetable slices might be a better alternative. This includes carrots, celeries, or any other crunchy veggie. Foods that are crunchy require a lot of chewing, and chewing stimulates saliva flow. Saliva, in turn, promotes teeth mineralization.
Candy/Chips – It’s acceptable to pack a small treat just so there is a portion of the meal your child can actually look forward to. A small amount of chips in a baggy is okay. If you do add sweets, such as a cookie or a small candy bar, avoid those with nougat filling as they contain caramel, which is notorious for sticking to the teeth. A solid chocolate bar, such as Hershey’s or Nestle Crunch, is a good choice.
Beverage – Milk is the best choice for the obvious reason that it’s high in vitamin D and calcium. If you choose a fruit drink, then pack a juice box instead of juice in a bottle. Juice boxes require a straw, which means the contents can be consumed while making minimal contact with the teeth.
Don’t Neglect Regular Dental Visits to Mukilteo Dental Arts
Even with school in session, it’s as important as ever to maintain regular appointments with a family dentist. Our Mukilteo dental clinic also has an endodontics department should your little ones require a root canal operation or other oral surgery.
Oral health begins at home, so pack a healthy school lunch to promote oral, mental and overall health in your growing child.
Edited by Justin Vorhees
Children’s Dental Care in Mukilteo, Lynnwood & Everett
General family dentistry for Mukilteo, Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds & Mill Creek