Dental health is an extremely important aspect of the overall health of human beings, men and women, adults and children. It is especially important to impress upon children the vital importance of taking care of their teeth from a young age so they develop healthy habits for a lifetime. However, it can be very hard to do so as many children view teeth brushing and flossing to be unpleasant and annoying. Luckily for parents, there are many, many ways they can make dental hygiene fun while instilling a respect for it.
One way to help children view their daily dental cleaning process as a fun thing to do is to surround them with positive, bright, and entertaining materials about it. The American Dental Association has a page on their website about National Children’s Dental Health Month, which includes cheery posters as well as other activities such as crosswords, coloring pages, and mazes that children can play with. The materials are available in Spanish as well as English.
Even without premade activities, there are many activities you yourself can create for your children to help develop a love of dental hygiene. Colgate.com has a page of fun activities both younger and older children can participate in. Two activities suitable for younger children are toothbrush painting and toothbrush charts.
Toothbrush painting is very simple; get a piece of paper appropriate for painting on and draw an open mouth with the appropriate amount of teeth. Get an old toothbrush and dip it into the paint, then use that to show the child the appropriate movements of brushing one’s teeth on the drawing. Then, let him or her demonstrate what they have learned by “brushing the teeth” themselves.
Another fun activity for young children is the toothbrushing chart. This isn’t just a boring chart with squares to fill in. To make this chart, draw an anatomically correct open mouth diagram on a piece of paper. Then, for every day your child brushes his or her teeth correctly for the right amount of time, give them a white navy bean and some glue to glue a “tooth” onto the paper, showing that they succeeded that day. After about a month, they’ll have a beautiful “mouth” full of “shiny white teeth”!
The last activity I have to introduce to you is a science experiment of sorts, and as such is more appropriate for at least slightly older children. For this activity, you need to get a glass of cola or grape juice and put a hard-boiled egg into it for a period of at least 24 hours. Because eggshells are made of calcium carbonate, like teeth enamel, it will stain similarly. After taking the egg out and showing the stains to your child, have them take an old toothbrush and gently brush the stain out with toothpaste. You can then have a conversation with them about how our teeth are like the egg, and how we need to take care of them after they are stained with what we eat every day.
Yet another way to help children view dental hygiene not as a chore but as a fun part of the day is to read books about the subject to them regularly. There are a surprising amount of children’s picture books out on the market specifically about brushing, flossing, teeth, losing teeth, getting cavities, and dental hygiene in general. This page on the University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library website lists many of them. Some of them include Brush Your Teeth Please by Leslie McGuire, Clarabella’s Teeth by An Vrombaut, Sesame Street’s Ready, Set, Brush by Che Rudko and Tom Brannon, I Know Why I Brush My Teeth by Kate Rowan, and Pony Brushes His Teeth by Michael Dahl.
Consider trying fun toothbrushes and toothpaste like Oral-B’s kid’s collection. Their brushes come in regular and electric and feature a wide range of characters such as Disney princesses, Doc McStuffins, Finding Dory, Star Wars, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. If your child doesn’t like the taste of traditional peppermint or spearmint flavored toothpaste, try a toothpaste specifically made for children. Practically all brands have at least a couple of children’s flavors, such as bubblegum, strawberry, grape, and more.
If you’re really having a hard time getting your children to brush every day, or brush for the appropriate length of time, Disney’s Magic Timer app can be a lifesaver. It’s an app that’s available on both iOS and Android, and it provides fun interaction paired with a timer for children while they’re brushing. As the timer starts and your child begins to brush, a hidden picture is slowly revealed. They can collect cute stickers for every successful brushing as well. To access this fun app, all you need is to purchase a Crest or Oral-B Pro-Health Stages or Jr. product. It’s been shown that 98% of kids brush longer while using the Disney Magic Timer!
Lastly, one of the best ways to get children to practice good dental hygiene is to have someone other than their parents impress upon them that it’s very important. It would be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a dentist (preferably one experienced with children) and have he or she explain to your child why it is so important for everyone to brush and floss every day. This may seem a little out of the ordinary and maybe even difficult, but there are literally dentists offices everywhere in every city and town. For instance, if you search “dentist Maroochydore” on Google you will have almost 80 results of dentists practicing in that area. It is likely that you will have just as many results where you live. At least one of those offices will have a dentist that’s willing to take time out of his or her day to have an important conversation with a child.
Dental hygiene is vital to everyone, including and especially children. Nurturing respect for daily brushing and flossing can and must be done when children are young and just forming their attitudes and opinions. As this article highlighted, there are many ways to do this, including using games, experiments, books, apps, and talking with a dentist.