With back-to-school rapidly approaching, it’s almost time for the daily routine of preparing a school lunch. Planning and preparing healthy meals can be a challenge, but it’s essential for your child’s oral and overall health. Nutritious, tooth-friendly foods can keep your child happy and healthy without compromising on taste.

How your child’s lunch affects their oral health.

Your child’s school lunch can help support healthy teeth or lead to cavities and tooth decay, depending on the foods you select. Bacteria in the mouth cause tooth decay and other issues, such as gum disease. These bacteria eat what you eat, relying on bits of food left behind to thrive and grow—and some foods are worse than others.

There’s also the need for vitamins and minerals to support oral and overall health. In terms of growing strong, healthy teeth, your child needs vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Talking with your children about nutrition and their teeth and answering their questions can go a long way to help.

Tips for packing those healthy and tooth-friendly foods.

It can be difficult to avoid falling into a routine of packing unhealthy lunches or relying on often unhealthy cafeteria food. These simple tips can make preparing your child’s lunch easier and provide healthy meals while maintaining variety and flavor.

Incorporate Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. Fresh fruits and vegetables make an excellent addition to any school lunch. They provide a wide range of vitamins and minerals, but they also have another benefit. High water and fiber content help prevent bits of food from getting stuck in your child’s teeth.

Carrots and celery are prime examples of perfect tooth-healthy snacks. Leafy greens and broccoli are also loaded with essential nutrients. Some fruits are acidic, which isn’t great for your child’s teeth, but they’re far better than refined sugars. Apples and berries are both excellent options that are lower in acidity than other fruits, like oranges.

Choose Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium is vital for tooth health and development, making up the most important structural element of enamel. Dairy products are an effective option, and they’re often supplemented with vitamin D as well. Yogurt, cheese, and other examples can be a snack or part of lunch.

Whether due to lactose intolerance or personal choice, dairy isn’t right for everyone. Alternative sources of calcium include tofu, broccoli, leafy greens, almonds, figs, and a wide range of beans.

Avoid Sugary and Acidic Snacks

Sugar provides a rich food source for bacteria and acids in various food and drink damage enamel directly. Unfortunately, these are also two of the most common things you’ll find in processed and pre-packaged snacks.

Obvious culprits, such as candy, should be avoided whenever possible. This is also true for processed fruit snacks that concentrate fruit into candy-like treats, even if no sugar is added. Crunchy and crumbly foods are also a risk due to the bits they leave behind. Chips, and even some types of crackers, should be avoided.

Stick With Water for Drinks

When it comes to drinking with meals and staying hydrated throughout the day, pure water is always the best choice. It’s just about the only beverage that doesn’t actively harm your child’s teeth. Sugar-loaded drinks, such as soda and juice, should be avoided when possible, and that includes supposedly healthy options or sports drinks.

Water doesn’t contain acidity or sugar to harm your child’s teeth. In fact, it helps protect them. Drinking water frequently throughout the day helps remove bits of food and excess bacteria, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Keep Oral Hygiene in Mind

Oral hygiene is just as important as diet when it comes to protecting your child’s oral health. One of the best practices you can instill in your child’s daily routine is brushing after lunch. You can pack a toothbrush and toothpaste so your child can enjoy a clean smile instead of letting left-behind food contribute to bacteria all afternoon.

You should try to instill solid oral hygiene habits early to help ensure lifelong oral health. Drinking water throughout the day (and especially after eating), brushing and flossing properly, and sticking to their routine consistently are all vital elements of effective oral hygiene.

Your Kids Dentist Near Granite City

A healthy diet is an essential part of promoting healthy development in your child. However, it’s just one part. To ensure healthy teeth, your child needs to keep up with routine dentist appointments. Metro East Dental Care provides comprehensive dentistry for the entire family. Schedule your next appointment today to keep your family healthy.