The 2016 school year is here, which means back-to-school photos and sack lunches. Here’s how to keep smiles white by packing healthy snacks:

Use Food as a Toothbrush

Sugar sticks to plaque. Luckily, nature has provided several edible, delicious and natural toothbrushes in the form of vegetables. Encourage your child to snack on a few hard foods to remove plaque before eating sugary treats. Raw vegetables, like carrots and celery, and fresh fruits, like apples and pears, help clean the teeth and leave sugars with nothing to stick to.

Post-lunch snacks, such as cubed, aged cheese, help reduce acid levels in the mouth. Low acid levels reduce the damage to tooth enamel. Additionally, the benefit of extra calcium helps strengthen teeth.

Foster Healthy Habits at Home

A parental feat worthy of a gold star is to convince children to reach for a healthy snack on their own. Start at home to keep up healthy snack momentum through the school day. Allow children to choose their own healthy snacks from the store to keep them excited about new healthy habits.

Turn snack time into playtime with an educational opportunity. Have the child sort through a bowl of grapes, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes by color and size, then eat them from smallest to biggest.

It is important for parents to lead by example. Children are more likely to mimic healthy snack-time behavior when they see their parents choose healthy options.

Here is a list of healthy packable snacks that are great for children’s teeth:

Fresh fruits and raw vegetables

Plain bagels
Unsweetened cereals
Plain popcorn
Tortilla chips (baked, not fried)
Pretzels (low-salt)
Plain crackers

Milk and dairy products
Low or non-fat milk
Low or non-fat plain yogurt
Low or non-fat cheese
Low or non-fat cottage cheese

Meat, nuts and seeds
Sliced meats
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds

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