9 min read

Healthy lunch and snack ideas when you can’t brush your teeth afterward...

Balancing a bustling schedule of school, sports, social events, and other activities can be a challenge -- and it can also interfere with healthy eating, not to mention a tooth-friendly diet. That’s why it’s important to know what options are healthy, especially when you can’t brush your teeth after eating. Choosing foods that are healthy for your teeth is easier than you think, especially if you have some easy-to-make and/or grab on the way out the door options. In a pinch, there are a few quick bites that are simple enough to swing in and buy through the occasional drive-thru when you’re already out and about.

How does Vitamin D keep teeth strong and mineralized?

Second, check for hidden sugars

Grab-and-go snacks:

Give a little thought to these grab-and-go delights and how they can be as easy as possible to grab on your way out the door. Pack them in containers, brown bags, sandwich baggies, thermoses, or whatever works best for you.

Nuts and seeds

First off, we have an easy, healthy snack -- nuts and seeds! Always a win, you can choose from a wide variety of these healthy little treats. Consider a blend of any of these popular choices:

  • Cashews
  • Pistachios
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds (these are great sprinkled over yogurt or salads)
  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds

Not only are most of these full of protein and nutrients like calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, selenium, copper, folate, and iron but they also offer a great source of fiber for your body and a fantastic way to keep your teeth scrubbed clean when you aren’t able to brush. Be sure to keep a container of these in your locker or backpack for the days when snacks aren’t easy to grab.

Cheese sticks or string cheese

Cheese creates saliva in the mouth, which helps to rinse off the teeth after meals and snacks. It also has calcium in it, which replaces minerals and rebuilds enamel your teeth may have lost while consuming other foods.

Fish (like sardines, mackerel, salmon, or tuna)

Crispy, crunchy vegetables


Like cheese, yogurt is rich in calcium, but it’s also full of probiotic bacteria that are believed to fight plaque and gingivitis. We would recommend plain or low-sugar blended yogurt with your own fresh fruit added whenever there is time. Grab a pack or two of yogurt with spoons at the ready to toss in lunches or to grab on your way to practice. Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurts taste delicious as do Siggi’s, but plain is always best and that’s available in all brands -- even the cheap ones. Don’t forget to make sure that they contain live and active cultures and don’t have any added sugar for optimal health benefits!

Black tea & green tea


Leafy greens

Throw some in a sandwich, munch on them raw, or lay down a bed of them underneath your tuna or pasta salad. Leafy greens take a lot to break down, so chewing them makes more saliva that washes off your teeth along the way.


Like we discussed earlier in regard to the teas, cranberries also contain polyphenols which the Journal, Caries Research, explains are helpful in preventing plaque and lowering the risk of cavities. Just be sure to enjoy them in their natural tart state -- masking with a bunch of sugar defeats the purpose.

Sugarless gum

When you have a few minutes to prep healthy snacks:

You can make countless different sandwiches or salads for a healthy lunch or snack. Just make sure to watch out for the hidden sugars and acids and try to make sure to rinse your mouth with water after all snacks and meals.

Tuna grinders (or sliders)

Baked Egg Muffins

DIY Protein Bistro Boxes

Mason Jar Veggie Salads

Mason Jar Veggie Salads

When you’re in a pinch and you just need something to eat, fast food is all around us. It is best to try to choose wisely and avoid fast food whenever you can, but we all splurge occasionally. Here are a few choices that won’t hurt your teeth too much if you can’t brush afterward. If you really want to protect your teeth and health, skip the desserts and sugary dips, dressings, and beverages, and get your burgers and sandwiches without the bun.

McDonald’s/Burger King

Grilled chicken sandwiches
Yogurt parfaits

Taco Bell

Veggie Power Bowl
Rice and beans bowl
Soft tacos
Cheesy rollup
Black bean quesarito

*Get your taco or burrito ‘al fresco style’ for a lower fat and calorie version which is likely to be healthier for your teeth as well.


Grilled chicken sandwiches
Baked potatoes


Market fresh sandwiches
Pecan chicken salad sandwiches
Roast beef or chicken sandwiches



*When possible, opt for choices with extra fresh veggies

The Braces Section:

For most braces-wearers, many foods, including crisp veggies and fruits, are okay as long as they’re chopped into small pieces. You may want to check to be sure, especially if you’re fairly new to braces. When deciding what to eat, you should essentially watch out for foods that are:

  • Sticky
  • Chewy
  • Crunchy
  • Hard
  • Staining

Note: If making sandwiches or choosing bread for sandwiches at fast-food restaurants, skip the French bread or tougher Italian bread. Even if cut up, they can be hard to chew when you have braces.

With this in mind, here are some of the foods our brace-wearers can enjoy:

Grab and go:

  • Lunchmeat
  • Cheese
  • Hummus with pita (as long as you can tear it into small, bite-sized pieces)
  • Sugarless yogurt packs (or plain, low sugar)
  • Soft cheeses (brie, cottage cheese packs)
  • Smoothies
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Potato salad
  • Olives

Cut these up:

Cut these up first or include knife/fork/spoon taped to the container for cutting later:

  • Pizza (no thin-crust or crispy crust, please)
  • Turkey and cheese sandwiches
  • Chopped fresh veggies
  • Chopped fresh fruit
  • Peanut butter (not the crunchy kind) or almond/cashew butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Veggie wraps or roll-ups (make sure the veggies aren’t too crunchy; steam first or chop up)

Here are a few tasty options if you are able to heat your food, or don’t mind eating them cold.

  • Spaghetti
  • Lasagna or lasagna rollups
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy with cut-up chicken

If you want to eat out, there are many great options from our fast-food list above. Just be sure to avoid crunchy breads, veggies, bacon, nuts and seeds, croutons, or anything else that could damage your braces. You don’t want the fast food to result in an extra visit to get them repaired!

Bonus tip: invest in some innovative containers

At Jungle Roots Children’s Dentistry & Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest comprehensive pediatric and orthodontic dental care in a unique, fun-filled environment staffed by a team of caring, energetic professionals. We believe the establishment of a “dental home” at an early age is the key to a lifetime of positive visits to the dentist.

Call Us - (480) 759-1119

References for Extra Info:

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