It's almost back to school time again! Preparing and packing nutritious snacks and meals for school is important. Not only is your child using the nutrients found in these foods to keep his/her mind sharp during school hours, but these foods can also affect their dentition.
While you pack those lunches and snacks remember that your children will typically not have the time, the resources, nor the desire to brush their teeth while attending school. Though brushing teeth twice a day is sufficient, it is not ideal for preventing decay. Optimally to prevent tooth decay a person should be brushing a minimal of three times per day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing atleast once.
Recommendations for your child's tooth-healthy snacks
-Crunchy fruits and vegetables are great for naturally washing the teeth and have a varity of vitamins, minerals and fiber for your child's health. The crunchiness and extra chewing stimulate saliva flow which helps wash the teeth/buffer the mouth. Celery, apples, carrots, pears, raw califlower and broccoli are great choices. Dried fruits are NOT recommended for snacks as they stick to the teeth. Providing dips like hummus, tzaziki, sunflower butter and others can make veggies and fruit an exciting snack!
-Avoid juice, pop, cocktails and milk as snack beverages as all of these have sugars that are easily digested by oral bacteria. When these beverages are consumed during a snack and no other food is ingested, the pH in the oral cavity will raise dramatically and a breakdown of enamel may occur. These beverages should be consumed during mealtime only. Water is the snack beverage of choice.
-Nuts are not permissable in schools but most seeds are. Provide your child with a mix of seeds such as; hulled sunflower, pumpkin, flax, hemp, chia and sesame seeds. Seeds provide a great source of energy and minerals, as well chewing the seeds will help remove plaque from the teeth and get saliva flowing.
-Hard cheeses and yogurt are good snack choices. Calcium in both are important for tooth strengthening properties. Hard cheese is excellent at preventing decay because the chewing stimulates saliva and the fat content coats the teeth to prevent acid penetration.
-If providing starches or grains for a snack ensure that they are unrefined ones such as; whole wheat or multigrain as these are less likely to be broken down completely in the oral cavity by bacteria. Chips, crackers, sugar cereals, rice cakes, cookies are poor choices for snacks as they are refined, provide a poor source of energy and can raise the pH in the mouth dramatically increasing cavity risk.
-Beans are a great snack though not always the most attractive one to children. Beans are complex carbohydrates and not as likely to be broken down in the mouth. Beans are great snacks as they provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. Make beans an attractive snack by trying a different type of bean daily and season them with natural seasonings such as paprika, cumin, tumeric, etc. Good choices for snacks are kidney beans, black beans, lentils and chick peas.
Ensure that your child has energy and nutrients in his/her snack. A snack should always has some vitamins, minerals, fiber and fat in it.
To help your child prevent tooth decay choose snacks that have one or a few of these properties; low in sugar/no sugar, unrefined, contains calcium, and crunchy.
To learn more about nutrition and your teeth, visit Northern Dental Care's website at, http://www.northerndentalcare.com/library/63/NutritionandYourTeeth.html