February is National Children's Dental Health Month. In honor of my kids' uncle who is a dentist, I thought I'd share a few fun things you can do with your preschool age children to teach them about dental health.
- Make a happy tooth/sad tooth collage. You can use the free printable below that I created and then collect old magazines or grocery store ads. Have your child cut out different foods and glue each food to the appropriate tooth--if it is a food that is good for our teeth, glue it to the happy tooth. If it is a food that is not good for our teeth, glue it to the sad tooth.
(Click on the image above to go to the free printable)
- Teach your kids why it is important to brush their teeth by doing a science demonstration with an egg and vinegar. First take a regular egg and have the kids carefully observe it. Have them feel how the shell is hard when they touch it. Then, place the egg in a cup of vinegar over night. In the morning, have the kids feel the egg again. That same shell that used to be hard will be soft and squishy. My older son really did not like how the egg felt soft and slimy after it had sat in vinegar. So it was good motivation to him to brush his teeth. I told him that the eggshells have calcium in them just like our teeth. And vinegar is an acid that breaks apart the calcium. Soda is an example of a food that has acid in it like vinegar--so that is why we should limit our soda intake and brush our teeth often to help protect our teeth!
- Pretend to brush teeth with a giant toothbrush/tooth. I created the tooth from pink and white construction paper, and then I laminated it. Then, I created a giant toothbrush by gluing felt to an old ruler. My kids drew "food" on the tooth with dry erase markers and then cleaned off the food using the toothbrush like an eraser.
- Take a field trip to the dentist (or invite a dentist to come to your home or school to speak). We went to a wonderful dentist who put on a cute puppet show for the kids and let all the kids take a "ride" in his chair and touch his tools. What a great way to help combat some of that anxiety that kids sometimes feel when going to the dentist.
- Read books about dentists. The following books are some that we enjoyed. I have found that some "real-life" books about visiting the dentist made my kids even more nervous, but the following are some books that are upbeat and fun:
- Maisy, Charley, and the Wobbly Tooth: A Maisy First Experience Book--This introduces kids to some things you might see at a dentist's office with the fun characters from that they might be familiar with from Maisy books.
- Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist (Dora the Explorer)--Follow Dora the Explorer as she visits the dentist. This is an upbeat, positive look at visiting the dentist.
- I also like the following book, though it will not prepare your child to visit the dentist, it is quite entertaining--though I do recommend it for older kids as it would scare young kids.
- Doctor De Soto--What does a mouse do when a fox asks him to fix his teeth? Dr. DeSoto helps out the fox with a toothache, but then he tricks the fox to protect himself.