It’s back to school time, and for many parents, that means packing school lunches. Food has a big impact on oral health, some good and some bad. Many of the bad foods and drinks are well known (candy, soda, citrus fruits, and so on). Instead, we’ve compiled a list of some of the foods and drinks that have been shown to have a positive effect on oral health. We hope that this list takes some of the stress out of packing school lunches for your children.
Drinks: When it comes to drinks, there are two really great choices, milk, and water.
Milk: Milk is the primary dietary source of calcium and phosphorus, which is essential for strong bones and healthy teeth. Most milk nowadays is also fortified with vitamin D which helps your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Milk also contains caseins, a protein that, when combined with calcium, develops a protective film around your teeth that helps to stabilize and repair tooth enamel.
Water: Water is also a good drink in regards to dental health. It helps to wash away sugar and acids that cause tooth decay. In many places, water is also fortified with fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that helps protect against tooth erosion.
Foods: There are many great foods that are also great for your teeth.
Raisins: While raisins are high in sugar, they also contain naturally occurring chemicals that help to fight the bacteria that cause cavities.
Cashews: The oils in cashews also fight against tooth decay, and as an added benefit, fight one of the bacteria that cause acne.
Yogurt: Yogurt is great for oral health, it contains calcium and probiotics that together will protect against gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables (Apples, Carrots, Celery): These foods cause an increase in saliva while eating and effectively scrub the teeth, removing bacteria, acids, and sugars from the mouth and teeth. These make excellent snacks to end a meal with.
Lean Proteins (Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs): These foods all contain phosphorus, which helps to strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel. These all make for great ingredients for sandwiches, but it is best to pair them with whole-grain bread, as other bread often provide no benefit to oral health.
Raw Onion: A good garnish for that sandwich is some raw onion. Raw onions contain powerful antibacterial properties that can help to eradicate bacteria that are known to cause cavities and gum disease.
Sugarless Gum: Many schools don’t allow students to chew gum, but if your child goes to a school that does not have a rule against gum, then sugarless gum is great to chew after meals. Chewing sugarless gum helps to activate saliva production and many contain xylitol, which helps to kill bacteria.
You do not need to limit the entire bagged lunch to the foods listed above, but by incorporating some of these into every lunch you’ll be helping to maintain your child’s oral health.
Beyond eating the right foods regular checkups and cleanings are vital to your child’s oral health.