There is much to consider when packing healthy back-to-school lunches and snacks. When thinking up snacks that are both kid-friendly and healthy, consider where the root of health starts: in the mouth.
Try packing these snacks for a fresh alternative to common snacks that can have corrosive effects on kids’ teeth during school hours:
Younger children need support developing strong teeth, as well as cultivating healthy gums. This is a critical time for ensuring that permanent teeth develop, as baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth come in.
Foods to avoid
Gummy fruit snacks, flavored juice drinks.
Gummy fruit snacks can remain stuck to the surface of the teeth throughout the day. Likewise with fruit juices, the sugar can accumulate on the surface of the teeth and acts as fodder for bacteria.
Foods for smiles
Milk and cheese products, tropical fruits such as mangos and kiwis.
Dairy products like cheese and milk are important for delivering a healthy and necessary dose of calcium to help grow healthy teeth and bones. Cheese, in particular cheddar, can deliver phosphates needed to replenish teeth. Tropical fruits are extremely high in vitamin C, which is essential for absorption of Vitamin D and calcium.
Middle school and older
Since older kids have already developed permanent teeth, it is important to maintain the health of the tooth enamel and gums. Packing healthier snacks that satisfy cravings for salty foods helps kids fight the temptation to eat quick snacks out of the vending machine.
Foods to avoid
Potato chips, sodas.
Both soda and potato chips are extremely corrosive to dental enamel. It only takes 30 minutes for soda to begin to erode tooth enamel, and surprisingly the sodium in potato chips can actually be more corrosive than candy.
Snacks for smiles
Cucumbers, fresh carrots and celery.
Cucumbers are a great source of in phosphorous, which is important for maintaining tooth enamel. Marinating cucumbers overnight in a mix of herbs and dash of vinegar can satisfy cravings for a tangy, crunchy snack. Eating firm vegetables like celery and carrots is thought to clean the teeth in between brushing, by disrupting plaque. Season crunchy veggies with a dash of garlic powder or seasoning for a twist of flavor, and serve with your child’s favorite dip.
Moreover, it is important to establish good habits with your children, brushing twice daily and flossing. It is very important to visit the dentist every six months to do regular exams and cleanings.