The new school year is just around the corner (yes, we went there) and that means packing lunches for your young scholars for a full day of learning. And after a summer filled with sugary snacks, your child’s mouth could use some smarter choices. Snacks that are not only good for them but good for their teeth too. But as you may have already guessed, not all snacks are equal. Continue reading below for a list of foods that are known to protect and clean your teeth while you eat as well as some snack ideas.
Most people are already aware that apples are good for your teeth. But do you know why? For starters, when you chew an apple, its fibrous consistency acts like a brush, scrubbing and cleaning your teeth. But the benefits don't stop there! On top of their brush-like quality, the acid in apples helps to kill bacteria that causes bad breath and the skins provide your mouth with healthy fibre that helps keep your teeth and gums clean.
- Apple slices – It doesn't get much easier than this. Slice up an apple and pack it up. As a bonus, try swapping crackers with apples for an extra beneficial take on the classic cheese and crackers.
Similar to apples, the fibrous consistency of carrots also acts like a toothbrush to clean plaque from your teeth. But that’s where their similarities end. Unlike apples, carrots help your mouth produce saliva, which in turn cleans your teeth. They’re also packed with vitamin B that is known to combat gingivitis.
When it comes to choosing your carrots, we recommend going for whole carrots rather than baby carrots. While baby carrots can be more convenient, they lack the number of vitamins and nutrients that whole carrots do. Not to mention, some producers use harmful solutions to rinse and clean baby carrots.
- Carrot sticks – Wash and peel a carrot, slice it into quarters and then cut to your desired length. Easy as that. You can also pack your little one’s favourite salad dressing for dipping if they prefer to eat their carrots that way.
Spinach and Kale
Thanks to their high fibre and low calories, spinach, kale and other leafy greens are not only good for you but also good for your teeth too. Kale specifically, is incredibly good for your teeth thanks to its high levels of calcium and vitamin B. Calcium helps to strengthen your teeth, while vitamin B fights against gum disease (gingivitis).
Spinach and kale are an acquired taste, so we recommend substituting the chopped lettuce in recipes with one of these bacteria-fighting alternatives to ensure even the pickiest of eaters experience the benefits.
- Salad – For older students, packing a salad in their lunch instead of the traditional sandwich is a great way to ensure they get a healthy dose of leafy greens, carrots and even cheese.
- Sandwiches & wraps – As mentioned above, substitute chopped lettuce in sandwiches, wraps and even tacos with chopped spinach or kale to provide your children with the benefits of these alternatives.
Unlike the foods listed above, cheese doesn’t clean your teeth as you eat it. Instead, it protects them. Cheese is high in calcium which as you already know, helps to strengthen your teeth. But it also contains a protein called casein which is known to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. And that’s not all. Cheese is also known to help protect your teeth enamel, destroying acid.
- Cheese and crackers - Pack up some sliced cheese with a baggy of crackers for an easy, mess-free snack or try swapping crackers with apple slices for a twist on this classic snack.
- Cheese sticks – For kids who love cheese, simply slicing off a few sticks from a block of cheese is an easy way to make sure they get their intake of dairy for the day.
- Soups and salads – Once again, for older students, soups and salads topped with cubes of cheese or grated cheese is an excellent way to mix lunch up a bit while making sure they still get the benefits of cheese.
Recently, scientists have discovered that cranberries eliminate oral bacteria before they’re able to form damaging plaque.
- Most people consume cranberry juice rather than the raw fruit itself. If your kids happen to like cranberries, then, by all means, pack some in their lunch. If not, we recommend sticking to apples, carrots and other fruits and veggies rather than trying to force your kids to like cranberries.
It's commonly known that milk and other dairy products help build healthy bones. But, they also help build strong teeth too— thanks to their high levels of calcium and vitamin D.
For those of you who don’t crave a cold glass of milk or a tasty slice of cheese, you can try adding powdered milk to cooked dishes to ensure you get the benefits of these dairy products without tasting them.
- Cereal and milk – Believe it or not, packing cereal and milk in your child's lunch is quite easy. Place the cereal in a plastic container and the milk in a thermos to keep it cold until lunchtime. And if you'd rather not send it in their lunch, cereal and milk is also a classic way to start their day.
- Carton of milk – Many schools offer milk programs that provide students with a carton of milk at lunch. This is a great way to guarantee your child gets their daily dose of dairy without the hassle of sending expensive containers in their lunch box— and yes, most programs offer a choice of white or chocolate milk.
You guessed it, water is good for your teeth too. Drinking lots of water throughout the day rinses your mouth of harmful bacteria and also prevents any lingering bacteria from forming damaging plaque. Simple as that.
Now that we've got your brain back in the swing of things just in time for the new school year, you may also be reconsidering your lunch choices. But don't worry, if the snacks listed above aren't what you're craving, there are also many other foods that are great for your teeth too. So good in fact, they've been deemed superfoods for your teeth and oral health. Click here to check out our past blog post titled, “Superfoods For Your Teeth and Oral Health”. And as always, if you have any questions regarding the information discussed in this article or about any other dental topics, reach out to us by phone or email and we would be more than happy to help.