If you’re a busy parent who is always on the go, then it might be quite tempting to fill your children’s pockets and book bags with pre-packaged snacks in order to make sure they won’t go hungry while you save some time.
On the other hand, many packaged snacks have a lot of carbs and sugar in them, which are things that can lead to the cavities you don’t want them to get. Not only would it waste your efforts in getting them to brush, rinse, and floss their teeth, but could undermine the visits your children make to their pediatric dentist. Which will just cost you more money in the long run.
Having said that, there are quite a few handy and delicious snacks that you can give kids on the go that will satiate their hunger while also keeping their teeth clean along the way.
Apples are a great place to start.
You can get them cheap by the bag in the grocery store or even buy them individually. They don’t even have to take up room in your fridge and they’re easy to rinse off under the faucet.
You can send them out whole for bigger mouths or slice them easily with an apple-slicing tool and a cutting board to store in a plastic container or baggie.
Apples are high in fiber, which helps out anyone, but they also clean naturally as they are being eaten. They scrub the teeth, tongue, and gums when consumed, thanks to their fibrous texture.
The skin is great here. It can help get surface stains off the teeth and fight off plaque buildup.
Apples can also help combat bad breath by removing traces of bad plaque or residue from the back of your tongue. Apple slices make a great dessert substitution.
Cheese is another great snack, which is why you might see a lot of apple and cheese packaged snacks out there.
Cheese has a lot of calcium, which helps promote stronger teeth. However, the advantages of cheese certainly don’t stop there. It also has a protein that’s known as casein, which is something that helps make tooth enamel stronger and even helps prevent cavities.
String cheese, so long as it doesn’t have a lot of extra sugar added, if any, can be a wonderful snack for someone bouncing out the door.
Nuts are a great snack for those on the go since they might stay fresh a bit longer than apples or cheese.
Cheese has to usually stay refrigerated or eaten soon, as do apple slices, although a full apple can usually wait a while. Nuts can stay at the back of the line on a longer day, but even when your kids get around to them, they’ll still be rich in protein that helps your kids build up stronger teeth.
Also, the action and motions of chewing nuts will promote saliva production which naturally protects and then cleans your mouth by clearing out the mouth of debris and acid buildup which leads to cavities. They make for a wonderful alternative to potato chips and any other salty snacks which your kids might crave.
If you’re really in a crunch, then crunch time is the way to go.
Pears, carrots, raw broccoli, and celery are all quite healthy and nutritious on their own. However, they also work as natural toothbrushes, as they scrub off any build-up before stimulating saliva that can wash away anything that’s left.
In terms of beverages, water is the best way to keep a mouth clean, particularly if it’s fluoridated water that helps make your kid’s teeth more resistant to things like acidic foods.
Go for water bottles over sugary soda or juice boxes, and encourage your kids to swish some water in their mouth after they finish snacking. That will help remove anything caught in between their teeth, helping prevent acid buildup and loss of enamel.
These can happen or even get worse if they have food or drinks that are high in citric acid which erodes tooth enamel. The process of demineralization means that the acid can get to the soft layer of dentin underneath the enamel.
As a final step, you might just want to keep sugar-free gum handy.
It won’t be the kind of snack that satiates anyone’s hunger, but if they really just want something in their mouth, it can satisfy that urge at least.
Any gum that has the ADA seal, especially sugarless gum, which gets chewed for 20 minutes after meals or snacks might help prevent tooth decay. It gets the saliva flowing, which can wash away food debris and fight acids that are produced by the cavity-causing bacteria that eat away your teeth.
As with all things involving oral health care, talk to your child’s dentist and dental care professionals for specific advice and ideas based on what they know and what they see going on in your kids’ mouths.