5 Tooth-Healthy, Back-to-School Foods for Kids

Healthy back to school foods

Starting the School Year Right With Tooth-Healthy Treats

Getting kids to eat right can be a challenge in and of itself. But by offering fun, tasty, nutritious foods and tooth-healthy treats, parents can help set their kids on the path to excellent oral hygiene. Here at Pediatric Dental Specialists, we’ve put together a list of 5 tooth-healthy back to school foods you can easily add into your child’s lunches. And these treats are so delicious that you’ll enjoy them too!

Feel good about what you’re serving your child.

When putting food in our kids’ lunch boxes, we want to feel good about what we’re packing. Gone are the days when a sandwich, bag of chips, and dessert would do the trick. As we get more thoughtful about what we put into our bodies and the impacts of certain foods and beverages on our teeth, it’s no wonder that parents are second-guessing previous decisions.

But when it comes to a picky eater, finding the right easy-to-prepare, tooth-healthy snacks can be a challenge. We’ve learned, however, that including your child in the lunch-packing process can make all the difference. So next time you pack your kid’s lunch, try following these suggestions:

  • Include your child in the shopping process of back to school foods, and let them help choose what goes into your grocery cart.
  • Allow your child to select a healthy food option from each food group, and let them make the final decision on what goes in the lunch box.
  • Create a lunch-packing station in the kitchen, and take time with your child each night before bed to pack their lunch. You will not only help your child make better decisions about what they eat but also teach them a valuable skill that will be helpful later in life.

So now that you are putting the above suggestions to good use, what are the best tooth-healthy, back-to-school foods for kids?

1. Veggies

We all know that veggies are good for us for multiple reasons. The USDA recommends that we consume five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and not just because veggies are filling and have fewer calories than other popular snacks like chips and candies. Some veggies are better for our teeth than others. Carrots, celery, and other crunchy veggies are especially healthy and are wonderful options for school lunch as they are easy to pack. Carrots, for example, are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, and keratin. But eating fresh carrots also helps clean your child’s teeth because they function like a natural toothbrush. And celery works as a natural sort of floss, helping get tiny food particles out from between the teeth.

2. Fruits

We’ve all heard the phrase about an apple a day keeping the doctor away. Though this might be a bit misleading, there are a few grains of truth in this statement. Eating apples or other hard, high-fiber fruits help clean the teeth and increase salivation. This process helps neutralize the acids left behind by oral bacteria. Fresh apples and pears are superior choices to sugary juice, which can contribute to tooth decay, and chewing small slices stimulates the gums, increasing saliva flow and further reducing cavity-causing bacteria.

3. Nuts and Seeds

Assuming your child doesn’t have a nut allergy or attend a nut-free school, nuts and seeds make great additions to your child’s lunch box. They contain healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, folic acid, and fiber. Their folic acid content helps preserve gum tissue and protect against periodontal disease. And sesame seeds even help maintain healthy bone levels, gum tissue, and tooth enamel while disrupting sticky plaque.

4. Cheese Sticks or Yogurt Packs

We know that cheese and yogurt contain calcium, which is necessary for strong teeth and bones. And in most cases cheese sticks and kid-friendly yogurt are low in harmful sugars. Eating cheese, in particular, increases saliva production, which helps wash away bacteria from inside the mouth. Yogurt is also packed with calcium and contains helpful probiotics that aid protection against cavities, gum disease, and halitosis (bad breath).

5. Water

To stay adequately hydrated, children between the ages of 1 and 3 require about four cups of water or milk each day. School-age children, however, need up to eight cups per day, and most of this should be water. Water helps keep your child hydrated, which is of course essential for their overall health, but it also helps prevent food particles from building up in the mouth and sticking to the teeth. So if your child doesn’t have the option to drink milk at school, be sure to pack a water bottle, and encourage them to drink up!

Combine tooth-healthy foods with a solid oral hygiene regimen.

The best way to look after your child’s oral health and keep their smile bright and white is to teach them a proper oral hygiene routine. Teach your child to brush their teeth at least twice per day, especially after meals. But brushing alone is not enough. In addition to brushing, teach your child how to correctly floss between their teeth once per day and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash. And finally, be sure to bring your child in to see their Omaha pediatric dentist at least twice each year for their preventive dental appointments (i.e., professional cleanings). Request an appointment using our simple online form, and we’ll get in touch with you to schedule a day and time that’s convenient for you.

Whether it’s your child’s first dental appointment or we have been seeing them for years, we look forward to it!