School’s almost here, which means it’s time to start thinking about the lunches you pack for your child. But be careful! There are many foods that are usually thought of as healthy that can actually be doing untold damage to your little one’s pearly whites. Here are 3 common staples of midday meals that can make a children’s dentist nervous.
1. Trail Mix
Many parents might think trail mix is a healthier alternative to chips and other snacks, but this isn’t necessarily true when it comes to the teeth. Depending on the ingredients, trail mix could add an unhealthy amount of sugar and fat to your child’s diet. Check what’s in the mix before you buy it; if there’s a lot of chocolate and candy, you should probably pass on it. That said, there are many unflavored trail mixes that won’t pose a threat to your child’s teeth.
2. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is very different from regular fruit. Not only does it lack the water that usually helps provide nutritional value, but it also contains a much higher level of sugar. For example, a plum contains 16 grams of sugar while a cup of prunes (dried plums) will contain roughly 45 grams. Obviously, fresh fruit is by far the better option from the perspective of your family dentist!
3. Vitamin Water & Sports Drinks
Say your child has lunch after gym class or football practice. Maybe some “nutritional” water or a sports drink would be good to help them recover? Unfortunately, as far as oral health is concerned, these beverages could be a huge step backwards. Some brands of enhanced water – such as Vitamin Water – contain more sugar in a 20-ounce bottle than the daily recommended allowance for adults, and many sports drinks have as much sugar as a can of cola. Your child will be better off with regular bottled water instead; not only is there no sugar, but it also helps rinse bacteria and food particles off the teeth!
What Should You Pack Instead?
Of course, when looking at foods that could attack your child’s smile, you should also be on the lookout for healthier alternatives. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are usually a good option; they’re high in calcium and protein, which strengthen tooth enamel. Additionally, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery can act as natural toothbrushes and scrub the teeth while your child is chewing.
Talk with your dentist about the foods you’re currently including with your child’s lunch. They may be able to help you find potential threats for tooth decay that you didn’t even know about. Do your research and make sure that your child is getting a meal they can enjoy that will also help keep their smile healthy!
About the Author
Dr. Drew Vanderbrook has been named New Dentist of the Year award by the Dallas County Dental Society, an honor only awarded to dentists who have graduated in the last ten years and provide outstanding service to patients and families in the Dallas area. To schedule a checkup for your child or ask questions about their oral health, schedule an appointment at his practice, Vanderbrook Family Dentistry, by visiting his website or calling (214) 821-5200.