If you have a hard time getting your kids to brush their teeth, try to create some dental health activities for them to get to know their teeth better. This can make your kids more interested in their oral hygiene, and at the same times, make brushing seem less tedious and boring.
One of the activities you can do is to empower and inspire them to take “ownership” of their dental hygiene responsibility, by creating their very own dental hygiene kit with them. Go to an office supply store with your child and purchase a see-through “ziploc” type pouch. You will want one that is a heavier plastic than a regular plastic baggy of course. Simply place all of the things necessary to promote their teeth brushing habit inside of their own pouch, which usually comprises of:
– flavored toothpaste
Place their tooth brushing kit in a location that is near by the sink that they brush at, or have them keep their dental hygiene kits in their bedrooms.
Rely on educational tools. Often, children pay more attention to a message when they do not hear it from their parents. You may have better luck getting those teeth brushed if you read books about dental hygiene or pop in a video like The Adventures of Timmy Tooth.
Show the invisible plaque. Combine three or four drops of red food coloring with a few tablespoons of water in a paper cup. Have your child swish the colored water around in his or her mouth for about ten seconds and then carefully spit it out into another cup or a nearby sink. Then have you child look in a magnifying mirror and look at the red areas which show where the plaque is. Have your child brush his or her teeth with toothpaste and repeat swishing with the colored water. See how much of the plaque is gone and then talk about the areas where the plaque hides.
Do a flossing demonstration. Talk about the importance of flossing with your child. First you can show them how to floss, and then you can also demonstrate by using their hands and yarn. Have your child hold his or her hands together with fingers pointing straight up and tight together. The fingers represent the teeth. Then take a piece of yarn to floss between the fingers. To make the demonstration more vivid, smear some tempera paint between the fingers to represent the plaque between the teeth, and then floss with the yarn. This is a powerful visual for the kids to see how much paint (plaque) can be cleaned with the floss.
Show how dental sealants protect the chewing surfaces of the teeth. You will need the following supplies for this demonstration: two antacid tablets, vinegar, two small paper cups, and a small piece of plastic wrap. This demonstration shows how dental sealants (the plastic wrap) protect a tooth (the antacid tablet) from the vinegar (the plaque plus sugar). Wrap one of the antacid tablets in the plastic wrap and leave the other unwrapped. One represents a tooth with a sealant (the one with the plastic wrap) and one without a sealant. Place each tablet in a separate paper cup. Cover both of the pretend teeth with vinegar. Wait five minutes and then pour off the vinegar. The acid in the vinegar has started to dissolve the unwrapped antacid tablet (the tooth without the dental sealant). Then take the plastic off the other antacid tablet. Show your kids how the plastic wrap protects the pretend tooth from the acid, just like a dental sealant. This exercise ought to convince your child to keep their mouth open long enough to have the sealants applied, a process which is not painful and helps to prevent cavities.
Talk about healthy snacks. Talk about the five main food groups with your kids: grain, fruits, veggies, milk, and meat, and show them where they fall under the food guide pyramid. You can explain or review each of these food groups and why each is important for healthy bodies and teeth. Free reproducible food guide pyramids for kids are available on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Web site. After kids have done the sealant activity, it is motivation for them to eat healthier snacks to ensure healthier teeth. Eliminate as much sugar as possible!
Demonstrate decay. Take an apple and put a one-inch deep hole in it. Place the apple in a paper bag and set it aside for a few days. Cut through the place where the hole was and have your kids look at the effect of decay. It shows how decay spreads through a tooth. You can then explain why brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day is important. You can also grab a fresh apple and show them the difference by comparing the two.