Brushing, flossing, and eating are all good for teeth. Eating, because certain foods provide essential nutrients like calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin D for dental as well as overall health. And with kids’ teeth, it’s what we don’t give them that can often make the biggest difference. Boot out the sugary foods and starchy snacks that contribute to tooth decay with the help of the following lunch-time alternatives:
Plain, low-fat yogurt with sliced strawberries and almonds. You know what they say about breakfast – you can have it for dinner, or lunch! In addition to being low in both acidity and sugar, yogurt is rich in calcium to help keep teeth strong. Fruits like strawberries have high vitamin C content for gum health, and almonds contain lots of fiber, great for promoting the flow of saliva, which protects tooth enamel.
Finger food tray. Mix things up with this fun lunchbox option. Kids love finger foods, like celery and carrots, which are packed with vitamin A, helping them maintain resilient tooth enamel. During all that crunching action, the kids will stimulate their gums and promote saliva production. In addition to the raw veggies, throw in some low-fat cheese triangles to get the goodness of calcium and protein in cheese, and finish off your food tray with some phosphorous-rich hard-boiled eggs, halved.
Turkey in whole-wheat pita. Lean turkey meat is also rich in phosphorous, which works with calcium and vitamin D for strong teeth. Starchy foods like potatoes and white bread raise acidity levels in the mouth, so less refined starches are a better choice for getting those essential carbohydrates. Try making a variation of the classic turkey sandwich by using whole-wheat pita bread, filled with some fiber-rich greens like spinach and kale. For a completely different lunch with similar selling points, dice up some grilled chicken and toss it in whole grain pasta with steamed broccoli.
The Snack Bag
Crunchy versus dried fruits. Both crunchy and dried fruits are rich in vitamins, but the crunchy ones don’t stick to the teeth. They also have high water content, diluting the effect of sugars found in these naturally sweet treats.
Sesame seeds. According to Dental Health Magazine, sesame seeds help reduce plaque and preserve the bone around teeth and gums. And the kids can’t get enough of them. In addition to seeds, nuts of all kinds are a good choice for the snack bag.
Cottage cheese with fresh pears. In addition to carrying tons of protein and nutrients, eating cottage cheese will help balance your mouth’s pH.
Sliced cucumbers. Ever make a salad with disappearing cucumbers, because your child picks them all off? Why not make a refreshing snack out of this favorite veggie? Try slicing up some fresh cucumbers with low-fat ranch that you mix up yourself. Just mix plain yogurt and a pinch of readymade ranch powder.
Washing It All Down
Chocolate milk. It’s no myth that milk is “good for teeth and bones and hair.” And according to WebMD, cocoa may help protect against erosion and decay.
Iced green tea. Hot or cold, green tea has many proven benefits, including freshening breath. The tea’s polyphenols and fluoride are both bright spots for teeth as well. Just skip out on the sweetener.
Water. Why not help them hydrate and clean their teeth with every sip? Fill those BPA-free bottles with water – just make sure it’s from the tap. It’s free and contains fluoride!