Group of children having packed lunches

Teeth-Friendly School Lunchbox Ideas

With so much to do before kids head back to school, one of the most common details parents forget is packing a healthy lunch. A nutritious meal at lunchtime plays an important role in your child’s energy and focus at school, and could make a big difference on their report card.

Packing a teeth-friendly school lunchbox doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming as long as you plan ahead, get used to a little nightly chopping action, and try to make it fun. We’ve assembled the 5 friendliest food groups for your kids’ teeth and lots of tips for packing fun and teeth-friendly ideas into their school lunchbox.
 

Veggies

Fresh vegetables in colorful bowls isolated on white. Healthy party snacks. Asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Crunchy vegetables—like carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, lettuce and broccoli—are probably the best snack for your teeth, period. The high water content of vegetables not only rehydrates our bodies, but also dilutes natural sugars and washes away food particles while we eat.

The easiest way to liven up raw veggies is to include a dip like hummus, cream cheese or fresh salsa. But if you want to get a little fancier, try a dill cucumber dip or one of these delicious summer slaw salad recipes.

If your children aren’t very fond of vegetables in the first place, getting them to eat healthier can be a challenge. Just remember to set a good example for them with your own eating habits, introduce new foods slowly, invite your kids to cook with you, and allow them to have “sometimes” foods like sugary cereals or the occasional Happy Meal as a reward.
 

Cheese

Cheeses, White Background, Clipping path

Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defense against cavities and gum disease.

Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares is recommended to help your kids digest better. If you’d like to make a tasty cheese sandwich for your kids, try this cucumber, tomato and cheddar sandwich recipe we found.

Just remember if you’re packing a sandwich to use “whole grain” or “whole wheat” bread instead of white, because these contain more natural vitamins, minerals and fiber.
 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts in the glass jar , collection, clipping path

Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid. Folic acid plays a major role in preserving gum tissues and preventing periodontal disease.

Despite being rich in Vitamin E, the shape and texture of almonds put damaging stress on teeth when kids bite down. So if your kids love almonds, try to find almond slivers next time you’re at the grocery.
 

Fruits

5 varieties of apples: Granny smith, Golden delicious, Gala, Macintosh and Red delicious. Larger files include clipping path.

Fibrous fruits—or fruits high in fiber—act almost like a natural toothbrush while you bite and chew. Apples, bananas and strawberries are all a healthy substitution for dessert in addition to being relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and very fulfilling.

If your kids aren’t too keen on fruits yet, make fruits more enjoyable with a healthy yogurt fruit dip or try cutting apples into fun shapes.

However, be careful your children aren’t eating too many fruits – especially dried fruit or fruit juice, which contain lots of artificial sugars. And try to stay away from most “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks.
 

Water

Bottles of water various sizes 1.5L, 1L, 500ml, 300ml. With clipping paths.

Growing up, we all probably drank way more juice than we should have because our parents thought it was a healthy alternative to soda. But the science is out – fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda.

Encourage your children to drink the recommended amount of water daily. Depending on their age, they should be having 5-10 glasses of water each day.

Water not only energizes rehydrates your organs and muscles, it also helps create more saliva in your mouth. More saliva means less tooth decay and stronger tooth enamel.
 

Putting it all together

We know every parent would love to feed their children healthy foods for every meal, but we also know that budgeting is a very real concern. So even if you can only afford apple slices, cherry tomatoes, a handful of nuts, cheese sandwich and tap water, you’re really helping your kids build a foundation for healthier futures.

A school-provided lunch of mystery meat, instant mashed potatoes, applesauce and chocolate milk is unfortunately just not a healthy alternative to homemade lunch. And though school lunches are often provided at a discount, packing your own is possible for only $2-$3/day.

Good luck! And if you ever have more questions about teeth-healthy foods or lunchbox ideas, let us know when you’re back for your child’s 6-month checkup. Happy eating!

Healthy lunch boxes with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water, nuts and fruits on rustic wooden background. top view

A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are sitting at their desks and are eating their healthy lunches.

Apples: Dental Hygiene Facts

We’ve all heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But apples may keep the dentist away too. Apples are a naturally sweet, low-calorie alternative to cavity-causing, sugary snacks like candy and fruit juice – plus they clean your teeth while you eat them! The next time your child is craving something sweet, try replacing soda or juice with some fresh apple slices!

Benefits of Apples

  • Apples make gums healthier. Apples contain about 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which helps keep your gums healthy. Without this vitamin, your gums become more vulnerable to infection, bleeding and gum disease. If you have periodontal disease, a lack of vitamin C increases bleeding and swelling.
  • Apples are nature’s toothbrush.  Chewing the fibrous texture of the fruit and its skin can stimulate your gums, reduce cavity-causing bacteria and increase saliva flow. Like other crisp, raw vegetables and fruits, apples can also gently remove plaque trapped between teeth.
  • Apples strengthen your bones. Apples have potassium. Potassium improves bone mineral density. Your teeth are made from bone. ‘Nuff said.
  • Apples help regulate weight. Loaded with soluble fiber, apples can help lower your cholesterol and improve your blood sugar regulation.
  • Apples fight heart disease. Although the research hasn’t proven it yet, there’s an apparent link between gum health and heart health. Periodontitis and heart disease share risk factors such as smoking, age and diabetes, and both contribute to inflammation in the body. Apples contain antioxidants that lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer and stroke.

It’s never too early to talk to your children about their health. By helping them learn about nutrition, you are preparing them to make healthier decisions throughout their lives!

Is the acidity in apples bad for my child’s teeth?

According to a study published in the Journal of Dentistry, apples may be even more acidic than soda. But the negative effects of acidity in any foods you eat, like processed meats and coffee, can easily be prevented if you follow these tips:

  • Eat apples with another snack. Consider serving your child apple slices with a small serving of cheese, a glass of milk or crackers. Whatever you choose, other foods will help neutralize the acid in the apple – especially if they’re high in calcium.
  • Rinse with a glass of water. In general, it’s just a good idea to drink a glass of water or rinse after eating. Water helps rinse away acid and food particles that have collected between your teeth.
  • Wait to brush. Brushing immediately after eating any sugary food is not a good idea. The sugar will act like sandpaper and damage your tooth enamel. Have your kids wait at least 30 minutes after sugary snacks to brush.
Girl at the dentist holding and x-ray and looking at the camera smiling

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, a great time to focus on kids!

Getting kids off to a good start with their oral health is what pediatric dentistry is all about. “A child’s attitudes and habits about caring for their teeth are established very early,” says Dr. Kim Hansford, a board-certified pediatric dentist. “A good experience with the dentist when they’re young can influence the way they take care of their oral health throughout their lives. The dental care they receive while they’re young can also prevent problems down the road, and set them up for healthy smiles for life.”

5 Big Reasons To Choose a Children’s Dentist for Your Little Ones

1. In addition to completing dental school, pediatric dentists must complete an advanced residency program in their specialty. The program is usually two to three years in length, and provides an in-depth education in the unique dental needs of babies, children and adolescents.

2. Training in pediatric dentistry also covers child psychology, growth and development, and caring for special needs patients. Kids’ dentists are well prepared to help anxious or frightened children feel at ease, and to provide a positive experience for them.

3. Children’s dentists know the importance of providing a fun and welcoming atmosphere for kids. As Dr. Kim explained, “Toys and videos can keep children occupied before their appointments and take their minds off anything that might be worrying them. Being around other children can bring kids an additional level of comfort. And we always send them home with a little reward, such as a toy or stickers.”

4. A children’s dental office will usually feature smaller chairs and dental equipment sized to fit little mouths. That can make a big difference to a child’s comfort. In addition, “During a child’s treatment,” said Dr. Kim, “we explain what the different tools do in an age-appropriate way. It helps ward off fears they may have.”

5. With a strong focus on preventive care, a children’s dentist can help ensure a lifetime of good dental health for your child. You can count on the dentist to stay up to date on preventive treatments that are especially important to kids, such as fluoride treatments and sealants. And, a kids’ dentist is an excellent source of advice and answers to questions about your child’s dental needs.

Child afraid of the dentist

Kids Dental Health is Getting Worse in Kentucky

Despite having more families with dental insurance than 15 years ago, kids dental health is getting worse in Kentucky. The 2016 study of 2,109 Kentucky families determined that Kentucky meets only half of eight benchmarks addressing children’s dental health needs. This is a huge problem because tooth decay or dental pain can lead to trouble with concentration in school and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and cancer later in life.

Although Kentucky ranks first in the country in the percentage of people served by fluoridated water systems, the Bluegrass state is struggling to improve the dental health of its youngest inhabitants. Here are the key findings.

The percentage of students who need dental care is increasing.

The percentage of 3rd & 6th graders in Kentucky in need of early or urgent dental care was 32% in 2001. That number has now ballooned to 49%, meaning almost half of students in Kentucky are living with toothaches, tooth decay, infections or cavities. Eastern Kentucky is seeing the least improvement of any region.

Two out of five students have untreated cavities.

Tooth decay remains the most prevalent chronic disease in children, and impacts too many Kentucky children. And when students have poor dental health, it can affect their schoolwork. “We know in a very pragmatic way that a person with a toothache is probably not paying attention to their multiplication tables at school, so oral health is a significant issue for children in Kentucky,” Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates Dr. Terry Brooks said.

Over half of students do not have sealants.

There was a 14% increase in the number of children observed with dental sealants on at least one permanent molar. However, even with that gain, more than half of the children did not have any sealants, which are clear plastic coatings that protect the chewing surface of a tooth. Sealants are usually one-third the cost of filling a cavity.

Socioeconomic status is a significant factor in students’ oral health. 

What’s most troubling is that 88% of these students have dental insurance that pays for some or all of their dental care, parents report, but only 5% reported there was a time when their child needed dental care but couldn’t access it. So if access is not preventing parents from seeing a dentist for their children, is it education? According to the Kentucky Department of Education, more than 70% of public school students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. And unsurprisingly students on free or reduced lunch are more likely to have recently experienced a toothache, have visited a dentist more than a year ago, have untreated decay or be in need of urgent dental care.

“What leaps out in the report are two big issues,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “One is the paradox that more kids have coverage and yet outcomes are worse and the second is that we have factors that kids can’t control — where they live, the color of their skin, how much money their parents make — and those are real determinants on the state of kids mouths. None of those are easily solved, but they are challenges that we have to tackle.”

In 2001, only 871 of 2,169 licensed dentists in Kentucky reported seeing Medicaid patients – and low imbursement rates, which have not changed in years, were among reasons cited.

We proudly accept Medicaid patients of all ages. 

Many of our offices accept Medicaid and Medicaid type plans. If you would like to find a pediatric dentist near you that accepts your plan or talk about general kids dental health with a professional, please give any of our Kentucky locations a call. We’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction and ensure your children have access to the dental care they need.


 

Digital Map of Kentucky with Percentages for regions shown - meaning percentage of 3rd and 6th grades with untreated tooth decay

Show your support. Share this image on Instagram for Children’s Dental Health Month and help raise awareness for kids dental health in Kentucky.

little girl child have toothache with red effect.

What to Do if Your Child Has a Toothache

Toothaches are common for young children. But as parents, we worry anytime our child is in pain. A child’s toothache can have many causes—tooth decay, plaque buildup, incoming teeth, cavities, broken teeth or food trapped between teeth—and sometimes what feels like a toothache might be just pain caused by something else entirely! So what do you do when your child has a toothache? Follow our 6 easy steps to identify the problem, help ease your child’s pain and get them the treatment they need.

Ask Questions

The first thing you want to do is try to find the cause of your child’s toothache. If they are old enough, ask them to point at or describe the pain. If they are younger, look for swelling, redness of gums and cheek, tooth discoloration or broken teeth. If you find a tooth that is loose, discolored or broken, you’ve likely found the cause.

Help Your Child Floss

Next you want to help your child remove any food particles that may be trapped between their teeth. Remember to be gentle and careful while flossing, because your child’s gums might be sensitive. If your child struggles with flossing or has braces, consider purchasing a Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids to make it easier.

Rinse with Warm Salt Water

Mix about a teaspoon of table salt into a small cup of warm water. Have your child rinse with the solution for about 30 seconds and spit. This will kill bacteria in or around the affected area and encourage faster healing.

Use a Cold Compress

Apply a cold compress to your child’s outer cheek near the painful or swollen area. If you do not have a store-bought compress, you can make one by wrapping ice in a small towel or cloth. Try icing for 15 minutes and taking another 15 minutes off.

Use Pain Medication or Clove Oil

If pain continues, your child can take anti-inflammatory medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Remember to make sure that any medicine you give your children is safe for them: Read the Drug Facts label every time, look for the active ingredient and give the right amount.

Under no circumstance should you rub aspirin or any painkiller on your child’s gums – it is very acidic and can cause burns. If you need a topical treatment, a home remedy that others have suggested is clove oil – an antimicrobial, anti-fungal essential oil that was used as far back as Ancient Greece. Gently dab clove oil with a cotton swab to the affected area around the tooth for temporary pain relief.

Call Your Child’s Dentist

Flossing, rinsing, icing and medicating are of probably not permanent solutions to the problem. If your child’s toothache is caused by a cavity, they’ll need to see a dentist for a filling, root canal or possibly an extraction. If your child is experiencing extreme pain, fatigue or fever, you’ll want to call your pediatrician immediately.

Children are at a greater risk for dental infections than adults. If your child’s toothache is not going away—especially if the toothache persists for over 24 hours—you should call your dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Even if your child’s pain goes away, there is still a chance they have a cavity which can develop into a painful abscess. If you have any doubts, please call us or schedule an appointment online.

 

Portrait of a young girl showing thumbs up while in the dentist chair

Keeping Your Family Safer with Dentapure

For over 35 years, our priority has been the health of you and your family. So as soon as we heard reports of children getting sick from the water at dental offices, we began working on a solution. As of today, we are proud to announce that the Dental Unit Waterlines at every Kid’s Dentistree office in Kentucky, Indiana and Georgia are being treated with DentaPure® Cartridges.

Why treat waterlines with DentaPure®?

Last year in Georgia, nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscessus infections after undergoing pulpotomies (root canals) at a common clinic. An investigation found that the outbreak was caused by contaminated water that introduced the bacterium during irrigation and drilling. We decided that it was in the best interest of our patients’ health to not only revisit our waterline cleaning procedures, but also seek a long-term solution. DentaPure is a safe, reliable and effective EPA-approved cartridge that attaches to dental waterlines to prevent biofilm buildup in Dental Unit Waterlines (DUWL’s). When untreated, or improperly maintained, the water flowing through these contaminated DUWL’s and out through the air/water syringe or high-speed handpieces can carry pieces of biofilm that have broken off the waterline wall — potentially harming your patients, your staff and your practice’s reputation. Learn more by watching the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7CYIycR2Qo&feature=youtu.be

 

National Children’s Dental Health Month

What better way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month than ensuring the health and safety of your children? If you have any additional questions about DentaPure or improving your child’s dental health, feel free to ask any of our team members at your next visit! For more children’s dental health tips and tricks, check out our #NCDHM blog post here.

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