Lunch boxes and tooth decay - tips how to pack 'teeth friendly' lunch boxes
Making lunch boxes can be a tedious and time consuming process for busy working parents which means sometimes poor food choices are made. Many hidden "healthy lunchbox foods' creep into kids lunch boxes for the sake of convenience and many parents are unaware these foods are leading to an increase in cavities in young children and teenagers.
So how can you ensure your child has an interesting healthy lunchbox that also promotes healthy teeth, local mum and Bondi dentist Dr Ellie Pikoulas explains.
Diet plays a critical role in the health of your child’s teeth. Developing healthy eating habits early in life will help ensure strong and healthy adult teeth.
A recent report from the Australian Dental Association indicates that dental decay rates are rising among 6 year olds.
Rising decay rates in children have been related to changed dietary patterns, with fewer children drinking fluoridated tap water, and increased frequency of consumption of sugary, processed foods and drinks.
Foods that can contribute to dental decay include those high in refined carbohydrates (sugar) and sugary drinks and juices. This is because sugar feeds the destructive bacteria in your children’s mouth. The bacteria produce acid which destroys your child’s teeth.
Therefore it is important to check the nutritional information panel on packaged food to help work out which foods and drinks have high carbohydrate and sugar levels.
Here are our suggestions of what to avoid and include in your kids lunchboxes as a mum I understand the challenges of getting kids to eat what you pack so try and plan ahead when you do a shop and talk to your kids openly about good food choices and how they benefit healthy teeth.
DRINKS TO AVOID
-Flavoured milk: high in sugar and preservatives
-Popper juices: even the sugar free versions have a high acidity content. Apple juice and orange juice have a pH of 3, equally as acidic as lemon juice. The enamel of the teeth breaks down if the pH in the mouth is acidic.
-Cordial and Ribena: even the sugar-free versions have a pH of 2.8 (same as vinegar!)
DRINKS TO INCLUDE
-Plain tap water: try adding a few slices of different fruit every day: try cucumber, strawberries and even blueberries which will also turn the water into fun colours for the kids.
-Plain milk: use it as a special treat every now and then. Although high in calcium, it still contains lactose (sugar).
FOODS TO AVOID
-Concentrated fruit snack bars, dried fruit (sultanas, apricots, dried apples) and muesli bars: these are high in sugar and due to their sticky consistency, they remain in the surfaces of the teeth for longer causing decay.
-Muesli bars: many healthy foods contain high amounts of sugar and they stick to teeth
-Sweet biscuits, savoury crackers and chips have high levels of carbohydrate (sugar)
-Lollies, chocolate bars, gummy bears, lollypops, jelly: no need to comment on these…
-Starchy food: bread, pasta, crackers consumed frequently can cause the growth of dental plaque (bacteria).
FOODS TO INCLUDE:
-Food rich in calcium and low in acids and sugars: cheese, home made yogurt, hommus, rice crackers, popcorn. Food rich in calcium helps protect teeth against decay.
-Fresh fruit and veggies: apples, carrots and celery sticks also have a cleansing effect of the teeth.
-Egg muffins and egg slices: get creative and do some baking with your kids. Add some veggies, mix them with eggs and bake them in muffin trays.
It is important to complement a healthy diet with good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. Always supervise your kids brushing at least once a day, especially if they are young to make sure they are brushing their teeth long enough.
The Dental Spa Bondi, is offering to all ESM readers a “no gap on general dental” special for kids under 10 (conditions apply).
Also, take advantage of their free HydraFacial treatment offer when you book in to get your teeth cleaned and checked for the first time (valued at $185).
A free child-minding service is offered to all our customers receiving treatment.
Book today at www.thedentalspa.com.au