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Dental Tips for Kids Back at School

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Limit Treats

It is easy to get into the habit of putting a ‘treat’ in their lunchbox every day, or even more than one. Be this a chocolate bar, piece of cake, or packet of crisps. What do you imagine is worse? One huge pudding caked in sugar that you eat in one sitting, or a packet of jelly babies that you have throughout the afternoon?

The former might be worse on the waistline, but the latter, continually picking at sugary treats, has far more potential to damage your teeth.
Each time you eat sugar and starchy food, the plaque bacteria in your mouth creates acid that attacks the tooth enamel causing decay.

You don’t have to make your child go completely cold turkey but reducing the number of sugary food stuffs is a solid start. We focused on the impact of sugar in the diet in a previous post here.

Think Sandwich Filling

Sandwiches can vary greatly. A sandwich could be very nutritious- just bread, good quality ham and cucumber (as an example), or it could be a sandwich filled with thick jam.

Even the type of bread matters – white bread has a very high sugar content whereas wholemeal or grain bread is full of fibre and great for the teeth.

Children can be fussy eaters and you may feel options are limited but, even if this is the case, even if jam is a go-to hit, you can ensure this is sugar free jam or one with “no added” sugar. It is worth noting that even products with the “sugar-free” claim can still have a small amount of sugar.
With jam, for instance, check for products where fruit is the first ingredient listed. Better still, use sliced fresh fruit.

Often parents will do a great job of removing the snacks from the lunchbox but then include sandwiches which undo all this good work.
Sandwiches can also be a bit boring, do wraps provide an alternative? One option we love is wraps filled with broken up southern friend quorn bites or chicken breast, a little cheese and lettuce, making a healthy, low fat, high protein fajita. With the individual elements separate in the lunch box, fun can even be had assembling the wrap.

Stay Hydrated

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of staying hydrated, both for oral health but also health in general. Encourage your children to drink regularly, to sip at their water throughout the day and to drink plenty with their lunch.

They should also drink as they finish lunch, this helping to rinse away some harmful sugars and acids that might have been present in food. The hydration should be of a healthy kind – water or milk are ideal and sugar-filled fizzy drinks a complete no. If your child finds water too bland, it can be diluted with squash but, again, opt for a sugar free version.

Chew After Eating

Chewing helps to keep the mouth moist, producing saliva that naturally helps in the battle to avoid bacteria and plaque build-up. After eating, you have a short window in which to take action to reduce the impact of any sugar and acid in the food.

Many adults will chew sugar free gum for this reason, but gum may well not be permitted or advisable in school.

Another option is to include food items that require some chewing and also to encourage your child to eat these as the last part of the lunch, thus doing the most good. Celery can be a good option, so too many crackers as long as they are free of sugars and fats.

The Back Home Treat

We’ve all been there (some of us almost every day). Child arrives home – “mum, dad I’m hungry” – we suggest they grab something, we’re busy with work.
But what is it they’re grabbing, or if we have a snack prepared what is it? In France, a cake is common after school, no doubt delicious but probably not great for teeth.
Again, our aim is not to remove all fun or treats from the diet, it is a question of balance. Sugary snacks are best consumed during meal times with an array of healthy food and some water to wash it away, and not on their own.

Set a Good Example

It is far more difficult to encourage children to eat healthily if we don’t do it ourselves.
If they see us eating sweets or a chocolate bar then they will naturally want the same. The healthier our own diet is, the less chance there are unhealthy items in the house and so the more our children have little option but to eat well.

What Are Your Tips?

We would love to know how you encourage good dental hygiene at school – what great tips have you found?
Let us know by following us on Instagram or Facebook and tagging us with your suggestions!

Do you have a specific question?

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