Another school year is right around the corner and with that comes preparing lunches and snacks. A major part in keeping your child's teeth healthy is actually diet. What we ingest can is actually just as important as how we clean and take care of our teeth.
Here are some things to keep in mind when packing lunches:
1. The closest our food is to its natural form the better it is for us.
An apple is better than apple juice. Juice has additives and is a processed form of an apple. The more a food is processed the more cariogenic (able to cause Caries - decay) it becomes.
2. Juices are VERY high in sugar.
Even if the juice is "natural" or "organic" or if you cut the juice with water, the body still recognizes the sugar in the juice. Our body doesn't really care HOW MUCH sugar and acid it recognizes but more of how frequently we are exposed to it. Having a cup of juice with a meal isn't terrible because our body is already producing acid to get rid of the food we are eating. Having a cup of juice in between a meal that takes a long time to drink is worse for the teeth due to how much acid we have to produce over a long period of time.
3. Frequency of sugar, acid and starch is actually more important to be aware of than quantity. When we put almost anything in our mouth the body has to produce acid for about 20 minutes to break down sugars, acids, and starches.
For example if you eat 1 M&M every 20 min for 3 hours you have only had 15 M&M's, which isn't an extreme amount but your body has been producing acid for 3 straight hours! This can reek havoc on your teeth.
If you just sat down and ate a bag of M&M's in 5 min (you would more than 15 M&M's - just saying) and after about 20 min of your body producing acid to break down the sugars your PH of your saliva would return to normal and your teeth wouldn't be under attack.
4. There should be periods of the day between meals and an occasional snack that you aren't putting anything in your mouth except water. This includes gum, candies and mints. Having time where you aren't putting anything in your mouth allows your saliva to be at a more neutral PH thus reducing the acid that breaks down sugar, acid and starches and ultimately your enamel.
People who "graze" throughout the day are at higher risk for decay. Like previously stated having small amounts of food or sugary drinks all day creates a long acid attack. If you or your child is someone who needs to eat more frequently, having fruits and veggies won't cause a problem because they have a natural source of raw sugar. It's only when we have altered foods by processing them and changing their original composition do that cause us harm.
For a quick recap:
Drink mostly water, have other drinks as a treat.
Limit how often we eat, snacking all day is not a good idea.
Eat foods that are close to how we find them in nature for the healthiest option.