Many parents struggle to get their little ones to brush their teeth without a fight. While they may not think it’s fun to take care of their oral health, children need to learn healthy habits, so they can protect their smile for a lifetime. To promote good oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) devotes the entire month of February each year to helping children and parents learn about dental care in a fun and engaging way.
Why It Matters
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease that affects children, but it’s totally preventable. Every February, dentists, parents, and even teachers promote oral health and hygiene through fun programs and dental screenings. These may take place in schools or dental clinics during Children’s Dental Health Month. In addition, kids and parents can work together on activities like coloring and online games that promote dental hygiene.
Regular dental exams and cleanings can help protect kids’ teeth, but how children take care of their teeth at home is important, too. That’s why games, coloring pages, and interactive programs cover important information like:
- Toothbrushing basics
- Flossing facts
- When kids should first see the dentist
- What to expect at dental checkups
- How to protect teeth during sports
- How food and drink affect teeth
- Sources of fluoride, and why it is so important
Activities for Kids and Parents
These fun games and crafts are an easy way to introduce even very young children to the basics of good oral hygiene. These activities are perfect for Children’s Dental Health Month or anytime.
- Flossing Practice: Shape small pieces of air-dry modeling clay into “teeth” and press onto a printout or drawing of an open mouth. When firm, kids can use yarn to “floss” between the teeth. Use light foam stickers in between the teeth to simulate pieces of food, if desired.
- Tooth-Friendly Food ID: Cut two large teeth shapes out of white felt. Use a marker to draw a smiley face on one and a sad face on the other. Use colored felt to cut out assorted basic healthy food and drinks: fruits and vegetables, milk, chicken, beans, water, etc. Do the same with foods that are damaging to teeth and gums: soda, candy, baked goods, etc. Mix up the cut-out foods and have children decide which ones make teeth “happy” or “sad” by placing them on the appropriate tooth (smile or frown).
- Egg Enamel Simulation: Fill each of four plastic cups about halfway with four different drinks (soda, sports drink, juice, and plain water). Have your children carefully examine a raw or hard-boiled egg with a white shell, and write down its physical properties: its color, shape, texture, etc. Then place one egg in each cup so it’s submerged in the liquid. Check the eggs after a couple of hours, and again the next day. The protective egg shell simulates the protective enamel of our teeth. Sugary drinks will discolor and break down the outer layer of the egg. Compare what yours look like over time to an egg not submerged at all.
A Local, Family-Friendly Dentist
Do you live in the Minneapolis or St. Paul area and want a caring, friendly dentist for yourself or your children? Dr. Steven Hagerman is a trusted local option for your entire family’s dental care needs. To schedule a visit for your child, call (651) 646-2392 or request an appointment online today.