Food and nutrition are complex topics that mean different things to different people. For some, “eating well” simply involves making healthy choices, while others plan their menus around specific goals like losing weight, maximizing post-workout recovery or improving concentration.
But did you know that what you put in your lunch box can have a major impact on your oral and dental health?
Know which foods to avoid
The key to maintaining strong, healthy teeth at any age is to follow a balanced diet. Whether you spend your days at work or at school, packing a lunch is a smart choice for your body and budget!
But how do you ensure your lunch box is tooth-friendly? To begin with, it’s important to know which foods to avoid. The following types of food are known to cause cavities and tooth decay:
- Sweets, candy and pastries
- Starchy carbohydrates
- Acidic foods likes citrus fruits, soft drinks and juice
- Foods that stick to your teeth (dried fruit, jellied fruit, etc.)
Choose a variety of cavity-fighting foods
Choosing the right cavity-fighting foods can help prevent future oral and dental health problems. Because cavities form in an acidic environment, your lunch should consist mainly of low-acid foods that will increase your pH levels and help rebalance your mouth bacteria.
It’s also important to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after eating. This helps eliminate food debris that may not be visible to the naked eye.
Milk and no-sugar-added yogurt
Cow’s milk, soy beverages and yogurt are alkaline, meaning they’re good for your teeth. In addition, these products contain vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium, all minerals that help strengthen tooth enamel.
Cheese has the same tooth-strengthening properties as milk. It also contains fats and large quantities of casein, both of which reduce the accumulation of bacteria on your teeth. Hard cheese in particular stimulates saliva flow, which helps restore pH balance in your mouth.
Ideally, cheese should be eaten at the end of a meal to take full advantage of all its benefits.
Nuts and seeds
Besides occasionally getting stuck between your teeth, nuts and seeds do not pose a problem for oral and dental health. In fact, they contain enamel-strengthening minerals and lots of fibre to stimulate saliva flow.
Needless to say, it’s best to avoid candied and sweetened nuts.
Fruits and vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are naturally acidic and contain small amounts of sugar, you would need to eat very large quantities of them every day for them to cause a problem.
Enjoy fruits and vegetables raw, canned or stewed, but make sure there’s no added sugar!
Packing a tooth-friendly lunch is easy — and delicious!
From fish to tea, you’d be surprised by the variety of nutritious and tasty foods that promote good oral and dental health.
Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist for tips on tooth-friendly foods to include in your lunch box!