Healthier choices recommended for school lunches

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By Kelly Snider

YOUTH. Dentists have begun to see serious tooth problems at younger ages, and items that are included in the everyday school lunches like sports and energy drinks could be to blame.

Items like sports drinks and energy drinks are causing serious oral problems for children.

"The soda pops and sports drinks are just terrible for the teeth," said Dr. Elizabeth MacSween, an Orléans dentist. "When I started practicing 34 years ago, I never saw these problems in younger ages. But now it is so common now."

MacSween said the issue is the acidity and sugar works away and erodes the enamel on teeth. So children come in with really sensitive teeth since enamel is missing.

"Kids come in with the enamel missing on these beautiful teeth that have no decay. And it is sort of a shame because once the enamel is gone, you can't replace it. Then you'll have to do a filling to cover which means taking more of the tooth with it, or hoping the sensitivity will go away."

MacSween said over a period of time, after wearing off the enamel, what lies underneath enamel is very soft and can decay quickly. You've then entered the need for fillings and root canals.

"If you start down that road, you could end up losing a tooth. However, this is a totally preventable."

MacSween said ultimately, water is the best alternative.

"Even juice is acidic, although it has some help benefits; it is still acidic so water is always the best choice."

As well, children don't need to be consuming sports drinks at a young age.

"These sports drinks have all these electrolytes that children don't need to replace at the level of sports they are playing. If they have a good diet and eat before they played, if they are thirsty water is the best thing."

As well, when it comes to school lunches, MacSween recommends vegetables or cut up fruit to make the lunch or snack healthier.

Geographic location: Orléans

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