With the schools going back after the summer holidays, comes, for many parents, the return to preparing packed lunches for their children.  Getting kids to eat a balanced, healthy diet can, for some, be a challenge and trying to provide tasty foods that are also 'tooth kind' can be especially difficult.
There are a number of lunchbox staples that are high in sugars, and if eaten regularly, can lead to tooth decay.  Certain types of bread can be high in sugar (as well as salt) and it is worth checking food labels to find breads with the lowest sugar content.  Wholemeal bread tends to be the best choice when thinking about sandwiches.  Crisps, too, can be a source of hidden sugars.
Yogurts and Smoothies can also be very high in sugar, as can fruit juices.  Some supermarket smoothies can contain up to 7 teaspoons of sugar in a 250ml serving, and while much of the sugar is found to be naturally occuring, these sugars can still have damaging effects on the teeth.

'Tooth kind' snacks include vegetables such as carrot sticks or cucumber, low fat cheese with crackers, eggs, cooked meats and natural popcorn.  Fresh fruit in moderation is also a healthy choice, as the sugars in fresh fruit are not as accessable as they are when fruit is broken down to make a smoothie.

It is very hard to provide snacks for children that are free from, or very low in sugar all the time, and ultimately sugary snacks will be encountered.  The most important things that we, at Jackson and Gillies dental recommend, are:
  • Seek low sugar options when choosing bread, crisps etc.
  • Try to provide children with water to drink as often as possible
  • Save "fun" unhealthy snacks like sweets and chocolate for special treats
  • Encourage sugary foods to be eaten at meal times (the increased saliva will help to clean the mouth and fight decay)
  • Watch out for naturally occuring sugars, especially in healthy snacks such as fruit juice
  • Ensure teeth are brushed twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste suitable for the age of the child 
  • Make sure children attend regularly for dental check-ups to have their dental health regularly reviewed.