As your kids prepare for another Fall season of sports and academics, it’s time to resume the job of lunch-packing. If you’re like most parents, this job becomes a last-minute annoyance as you rush to fix breakfast and dress the kids each morning. That’s why so often health is forsaken for convenience and you end up slapping together a processed, packaged, sugar-filled lunch. It isn’t just food, either. Beverages are also a culprit. In fact, the ADA is petitioning that sugary carbonated sodas be eliminated from school lunchrooms because of the decay they are causing.
For decades, we’ve deemed sugar the number one cause for tooth decay. But it turns out, even foods that are considered healthy can potentially cause harm to your teeth.
Sport Drinks: If your children are involved in athletics this year, you might find yourself stocking up on sport drinks. Don’t. Although they look deceivingly healthy, they’re packed with sugar and contain a high level of acid. Water is always the best choice.
Acidic Fruits: Just because a certain food is healthy for your body doesn’t mean it’s healthy for your teeth. Consider oranges, lemons, and limes. These particular fruits have an acidic quality that eats tooth enamel. This includes orange juice too. Also, avoid brushing your teeth after eating acidic fruits. This can cause erosion of your tooth enamel. It’s best to wait about an hour. But you can always swish your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum.
Dried fruit: You know the gummy film raisins leave on your teeth? It’s sugar. And because of the sticky nature, it generally stays on the tooth longer, which means there’s more time to cause damage. So when you’re packing trail mix for your kids, leave the raisins out.
Meat: Meat isn’t necessarily harmful for your teeth, but (just like dried fruit) it has a tendency to lodge into the crevices of your teeth, which (if left overnight) can quickly form decay.
Now that you’re aware of what foods increase decay, here’s a list of foods that improve your teeth’s health:
Raw fruits & Vegetables: When you eat raw foods, it produces saliva, which neutralizes acids in the mouth. Make a habit of packing raw foods for your kids and encourage them to munch on them at the end of their meal. Because of the high water content, it will naturally cleanse their mouth. If you do decide to serve them acidic fruits, make sure they rinse their mouth with water shortly afterwards.
Sugarless gum: This can work the same as raw fruits and vegetables. By chewing, you build up saliva, which is always a good thing.
Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are high in calcium, which strengthens your gums and helps build enamel.