The 9 ABCs of Children’s Oral Health

Millions of children miss educational time each year in the classroom because they are visiting the dentist for an oral health issue. This missed time doesn’t include regular dental checkups. Teach your children at a young age how to care for their teeth and reduce the number of visits to the dentist. What are some fun ways to teach kids good oral hygiene habits?

Brushing the Teeth 

Play a song when the child brushes their teeth. Have them continue brushing until the song is done. Help the child brush until they can do so thoroughly on their own. The song distracts them and helps them brush longer. 

Cavities

Take a white egg carton, cut the top off, and turn the bottom upside down. Explain this bottom portion is much like their teeth. Ask them to pick food items present in the home that they like to eat. When they bring you a sugary food or one high in carbs, put a mark on the egg carton with a sharpie. When they pick healthy food, use a dry erase marker to mark the egg carton. Once they have picked a handful of foods, provide them with a toothbrush. Ask them to brush the egg carton. Show them how easy it is to remove remnants of healthy food while erasing the poor food choices represented by the permanent marker is much harder. 

Dental Visits 

Take the child to the dentist every six months for a checkup. Explain the importance of these visits. Have the child recreate the experience at home with stuffed animals, and ask them to explain to the toys how to brush and floss the teeth as the dentist explained. This reinforces the information the dentist shared and helps to cement it in the child’s mind. Find A Pediatric Dentist near you to provide care to the child. They know how to explain things in a way the child will understand and can share with the toys. 

Legos

Put Legos together to stimulate the teeth in the mouth. Stick Play-Doh between the Legos to mimic food stuck between the teeth. Allow the child to floss the fake teeth and remove the food particles using yarn in place of the floss. Show them how to floss around the gumline when doing so, as cavities often appear in this area in baby teeth. 

Marshmallow Flossing

Glue marshmallows on a piece of paper, arranging them like the teeth in the mouth. Place the marshmallows close together and hand the child a piece of floss. Teach them to floss between the marshmallows much as they should floss around the teeth. 

Plaque Removal

Take a plastic water bottle and paint it white. Make a liquid paste using water, flour, and food coloring. Spread the paste on the painted bottle to simulate food particles and plaque. Allow the paste to harden. When it does, have the child brush the tooth. They will see how hard it is to get the paste off. Explain the paste is similar to the plaque on their teeth. Use this lesson to show how important it is to brush their teeth twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time. 

Posters About Oral Health

Create posters to remind children of good oral health habits. Allow the child to hang these posters in their bathroom. The posters serve as a reminder when they go to brush their teeth. 

Science Experiments

Take two hard-boiled eggs. Coat one egg in fluoride and leave the other egg unprotected. Place both eggs in vinegar. The egg with fluoride repels bubbles, but the unprotected egg will collect bubbles on the shell. Explain that fluoride protects the teeth from decay much as it protects the eggs from the vinegar. 

Toothpaste Made at Home

Have the child combine four teaspoons of baking soda with one teaspoon of salt. Flavor the toothpaste with the preferred extract and place the mixture in an airtight container. The child can then brush their teeth with their homemade toothpaste. 

Ask the dentist for other suggestions on teaching children good oral hygiene practices. As the dentist works with children daily, they are extremely helpful in coming up with new ideas. It never hurts to ask, so question the dental team during your child’s next visit. 

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