It may not be a big deal but putting an apple rather than a sugary snack in your child’s snack box can help improve his dental health and his performance at school. After all, kids consume more than 20 percent of their meals at school. Here at Mint Kids Dentistry, we remind parents to make better decisions when preparing your child’s school lunch.

Excessive consumption of sugar can harm your child’s oral and general health. Cookies, chewy fruit snacks and candies interact with bacteria in the plaque. The plaque forms at the surface of your teeth and in between your gums and teeth, generating acid that can erode enamel and cause tooth decay. Although sweets can give short-lived energy on your kids, such sugar rush turns into a crash, leaving kids feeling sleepy and lethargic. This isn’t the kind of mental state children need when preparing for an afternoon class.

Mint Kids Dentistry recommends these oral health practices for school.

1.       After taking breakfast and before leaving for school, be sure your child brushes well using a fluoridated toothpaste. Brushing immediately after a smell will clean the teeth and gums and get rid of halitosis or bad breath.

2.       Pack healthy and nutritious lunch food and snacks in your child’s lunch box. These include lean meats, low-fat yogurt, whole grain breads, baked chips, whole-grain crackers, apples and carrots. Aside from being full of nutrients, certain veggies and fruits can help clean the teeth and gums. Just make sweet treats a treat. Cakes, cookies, bars and sugary snacks should only be given in moderation.

3.       If your child likes to chew gum and the school permits it, chewing sugar-free gum for several minutes during lunchtime, before the afternoon classes. This will help stimulate secretion of saliva to neutralize the acid and help remove food residue from the mouth. Chewing gum that contains the natural sweetener Xylitol is a good choice since based on studies, it has been shown that consistent exposure to Xylitol can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.

4.       Kids wearing braces must rinse or try to brush their teeth after taking lunch. Children wearing removable retainers should also clean their teeth and retainers after every meal.

5.       Before the school year begins, parents must schedule visit to their kids’ pediatric dentist to ensure that there are no dental issues to distract their children throughout the school year. You may ask the dentist on sealants as a way to prevent any tooth cavities from developing. Sealants are thin coating of bonding material that is applied over the molar teeth, acting as a barrier to cavity-causing bacteria.