Children across the country are getting ready to head back to school. As you shop for the perfect outfit for your child’s first day and the best school supplies, there’s one more thing they need for a successful year ahead–a healthy lunch. Whether they eat a school lunch or you pack their lunchbox, here are a few things you should know about common foods found in the cafeteria to prevent a toothache from keeping your child out of the classroom.
Over the last 10 years, schools throughout the U.S. have implemented various changes to enhance the nutritional value of cafeteria lunches. Although there have been several strides, a few concerning items might still be on your child’s lunch tray, like:
Milk is vital for strong teeth and bones; however, 99.1% of schools have chocolate milk as an option. Although your child will get servings of calcium and vitamin D, chocolate and other flavored varieties contain added sugar. If your child chooses chocolate milk often, their teeth will be bathed in cavity-causing sugars. If they can’t resist their favorite drink, encourage them to have fewer sweets throughout the day.
Canned fruit can be misleading when it comes to health benefits. Although it is fruit, many are in a sugary syrup. Not to mention, fruit contains natural sugars, which can be a bad combination for your child’s smile. It’s better for your child to pick fresh fruit instead of those packed in syrup and preservatives.
If you pack your child’s lunch, you have more control over the foods and drinks they consume to support a healthy mouth and body. However, common household favorites aren’t as healthy as you might believe, like:
Juice Pouches and Boxes
Capri-Suns and other pouched or boxed juices are handy, but most are loaded with sugar. They can contain just as much sugar as chocolate milk. Even products with 100% juice are very high in sugar, especially apple and grape varieties. It’s better to pack water for their lunch. It will keep them hydrated during the day and their mouth clean in between brushing and flossing.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple of every childhood, but your child shouldn’t eat them often. The combination is a recipe for disaster because the components are packed with sugar that sticks to teeth, like the back molars. You can make their favorite sandwich healthier by swapping the jelly with banana slices and choosing whole-grain bread and all-natural peanut butter.
Besides planning school lunches, don’t forget to schedule your child’s semi-annual cleaning and checkup. You’ll ensure they have a healthy smile as they head into the new school year.
About Dr. Macy Shirley
Dr. Shirley achieved her dental degree from the Texas A&M College of Dentistry and has continued her education in advanced services to treat patients of all ages. She offers the compassionate care young smiles need. If it’s time for your child’s next cleaning and checkup, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.