Oral hygiene sounds pretty sterile and boring, and it is. If it’s a bore for adults, it’s worse for kids. After all,they don’t care about how oral hygiene works. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. What we need to recognize is that kids have different priorities than adults do. If they could, they’d never use a toothbrush. Unless- you make it fun!
Below are ten fun ways you can teach kids about oral hygiene! Whether you are a parent, teacher, family member, or friend–these will work for you.
1. Kids love to have their own identity and if you encourage it, they’ll do anything,even if it’s good for them! One good way to get kids to brush their teeth is to allow them to choose their very own toothbrush.
2. Toothbrushes come in all kinds of colors, shapes, and sizes. It doesn’t stop there. The toothpaste is next. There are several companies that make toothpaste for kids in great flavors kids love and mouthwash with cartoon characters in brilliant colors. It makes them look forward to taking care of their oral health.
3. Kids also love demonstrations and exaggerated things. You can order a giant tooth.Yes, you heard right–a giant model tooth. Demonstrate how to brush correctly.This is important because kids have a haphazard way of doing things. They want to play, and while you’re trying to make it fun, you don’t want to undermine the process.
4. If you’re an educator, you’ll do anything to get a group of small children to not only pay attention but to take part. Competition isn’t lost on the young. It’s a healthy experience when it results in something healthy. Get a competition going with the parents involved. They’ll have to help you monitor the results of how each child involved cares for their oral hygiene.
5. You’ll have to rely on the honesty of the family and the child, which gives them confidence besides great oral health habits.
6. Get them involved in a game pertaining to tooth brushing. You can make this up easily. It depends on the age of the kids involved. If they are tiny, then do a song instead. Some kind of rhyme would do just fine. Older kids enjoy more of a challenge, so a game with some trivia about teeth or something similar can work.
7. Have a career day! Get a dentist or hygienist to come and talk to the class about oral hygiene. Make it fun and interactive with questions and answers. They show up with a gift as a new toothbrush and other oral hygiene products to giveaway. What kid doesn’t like a free gift? Demonstrations are also given. Who knows,there may be a future Dentist in the audience!
8. Teach them the difference between healthy and sweet snacks. Bring in something that is really tasty and show them that healthy snacks can taste good too! Fruit and organic snacks are good to expose them to the young. This way, they get used to tasty, sweet stuff that’s also healthy.
9. Kid’s books are a great way to illustrate oral hygiene. Story time is always a way to get and keep their attention. They’re also more likely to absorb the information if it’s in story form and fun. So, make sure that it’s not just a lecture. If you’re finding boring books then break up the reading with some interaction that gets them involved.
10. Role-play with them if you are a teacher, get some of that plastic fruit and snacks that you can get anywhere. Ask them to go shopping–(pretend)-- and show them what they should choose and why they’ve chosen it. If you’re a parent, then take them to the store when it’s not busy and they can pay attention to the isles and what’s on them. Carry out the same exercise.
11. Quizzes and puzzles are a great way to break up the day in the classroom and bring in some fun. A designated hour a couple of days a week can make learning about oral health something to look forward to. Making oral health a part of the weekly curriculum is a smart way to keep it top of mind.
12. This one you can use with several of the exercises listed. There are tablets they can chew that will disclose where they missed brushing. Then, they can brush at home or in the classroom if the facilities are available and feel a sense of accomplishment when they no longer see the disclosure color on their teeth. You could integrate this within the competition point or demonstrations successfully.
Oral hygiene is an important part of our lives.Not only for the health of our mouths but our entire system. Gum disease and tooth decay cause inflammation in the body contributing to other health issues.The younger we are when we adopt good oral hygiene the better. If we wait,there is a tendency to be neglectful about our oral care. When this happens we have an ongoing issue that costs more and more to rectify.
Most oral care issues start small and aren’t noticeable. That’s why regular dental checkups are a must. If caught early enough, serious oral health issues can be averted. The way that’s done is to schedule their first dental appointment by age 1 or within 6 months of the first baby tooth erupting. This is a good way to start off on the correct oral hygiene path. They can also discover systemic issues that present themselves in the mouth. Vitamin deficiencies or enamel defects in the teeth.
Both baby teeth and adult teeth should be cared for properly. It is important to routinely see a dentist every 6months so that oral hygiene is a team effort. The dentist will instruct the parents and the child on what needs to bed one now and what may need to be done in the future.
Related article: A Parent’s Guide to Navigating Common Pediatric Dental Procedures