Pack a School Lunch That’s Good for your Child’s Teeth

August 13, 2012

As the school year starts again, parents everywhere collectively sigh as back-to-school preparations begin in earnest. With all of the thought and stress that goes into sending your child to school, having one less thing to worry about can feel like a breath of fresh air. Lake Orion family dentist, Dr. Brad Greenfield, gives you these tips for packing a school lunch that will benefit your child’s oral health and reduce their risk of developing tooth decay.

Always Read the Labels

The myth that too much sugar is directly responsible for cavities may be false, but it is close to the truth. Your child’s mouth contains between 10-15 billion bacteria. When these bacteria accumulate, they create a sticky biofilm (plaque) that holds them together and allows them to cling to teeth. When your child eats something sugary, these bacteria process the sugar and turn it into lactic acid, which weakens tooth enamel (the tooth’s outer protective layer). Weakened enamel allows bacteria into the interior of the tooth, causing tooth decay. Check all food labels for the amount of sugar and acids they contain. Foods that contain a lot of sugar should be eaten as part of a larger meal to help dilute the sugar and neutralize acid. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal stimulates saliva, which further helps buffer acids and fight tooth decay.

Tooth Healthy Food Choices

Milk and water are the best drink choices. Neither contains damaging amounts of sugar, and both help rinse acid and bacteria from the mouth. Milk has the added benefit of calcium and phosphate—two main minerals that comprise tooth enamel, and help strengthen it when consumed. If you include juice or soda in your child’s lunch, include a straw, as well. Drinking through a straw will help minimize tooth exposure to sugar and acid. Foods that contain protein also act as good acid buffers. Nuts, cheeses, chicken, and turkey all contain protein, as well as other minerals that are essential to the health of your child’s teeth.

For more information on protecting your child’s health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Greenfield, call Lake Orion Family Dentistry in Lake Orion, Michigan, at (248) 693-6213. We welcome patients from Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, and the surrounding communities.

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