When staring at an empty lunchbox, it’s likely you’re trying to decide what your child will eat. While looking at the ingredients on your counter, you reach for a piece of fruit, some vegetables, whip up a quick and easy sandwich, and throw in a bag of chewy fruit snacks and pouch of their favorite juice, but are these the items they need to be eating for healthy teeth and gums? Let a children’s dentist weigh in on what foods you should be reaching for and which ones to avoid when packing your child’s lunch.
Importance of Good Oral Health at an Early Age
Starting at an early age, children need to know the importance of good oral health. Not only are there teeth still growing and developing, but they are more prone to developing tooth decay and cavities. Why? One of the many reasons is due to the fact that their oral hygiene skills are not fully formed. Brushing for two minutes, in a circular motion, at a 45-degree angle isn’t an easy concept for a young child to grasp, and neither is flossing.
As parents, it is important that you show your child the correct methods and lead by example. If your child sees you taking care of your oral health, they’ll want to do the same. But this doesn’t just include brushing and flossing, it also includes eating right.
Foods to Pack
Before your child rushes off to catch the school bus, you’ll want to make sure they have a proper lunch to take with them. To keep their teeth and gums feeling and looking healthy all day, a family dentist suggests you try including some of the following foods in their lunch:
- Salmon or other Omega-3 fatty acid foods
- Lean proteins
- Low-Fat Yogurt
Foods to Avoid
What can be difficult is deciphering what is actually good versus what is bad. Yes, chocolate, chips, and candy bars are obviously not nutritious snacks or lunch choices, but what about other so-called “healthy” foods? Apart from the obvious, here are some other foods you should avoid altogether or leave as a special treat every now and then:
- Granola or granola bars
- Enhanced water or sports drinks
- Trail Mix (with candy, dried fruit, and chocolate)
- Dried Fruit
- Fruit Juice
Now that you know what foods can keep your child’s teeth and gums in check, you can begin to take measures to make sure you’re buying the right ingredients and materials the next time you head to the grocery store. A tasty (bad) treat is fine every once and awhile, but it’s best not to make it a habit.
About the Author
Dr. Karl Arakelian has an estimated 30 years of experience in the field of dentistry. Graduating from Brooks School in North Andover, MA, he went on to achieve his undergraduate degree in Biology from McGill University in Montreal before completing his Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Arakelian has directed the sports mouthguard program for the athletic department at Brooks School for many years and enjoys providing state-of-the-art care for both children and adults. To learn more about him and the services we offer, contact us via the website or by calling (978) 373-0901.