Every February the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month. The goal is, unsurprisingly, to raise awareness about the importance of kids’ oral health.
We all know that it’s critical to take good care of our children’s teeth, and teach them how to keep their smiles strong and beautiful. But any parent who has wearily tried to convince a toddler to brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes also knows, it can be hard to engage the little ones in their dental care chores. Sometimes we even wonder whether it’s worth all the fuss to care for teeth that will soon fall out and be replaced with a permanent set.
But those baby teeth matter. Experts say that if kids lose their teeth prematurely, their permanent teeth can come in crooked or otherwise compromised. Kids who have cavities in their baby teeth will almost certainly have decay in their permanent teeth.
Making Dental Care Fun
Kids can get excited about brushing if they really understand the reasons behind caring for their teeth. But explaining these reasons carefully and reasonably often just doesn’t click with kids. Sometimes they need to prove it to themselves with activities like simple science experiments (not on their own teeth, of course!) And sometimes visual aids can capture a kid’s attention and transform him or her into a dedicated dental care advocate.
Thankfully, the internet is filled with oral health resources for children. Among the best that we found are:
The American Dental Association has a slew of free dental care goodies that parents, teachers and dentists can use to capture kids’ interest and educate them on proper dental care. There are activity sheets, lesson plans, information, puzzles and games. You can download the full packet in English here and in Spanish here. Or you can browse all of their National Children’s Dental Health Month resources here
The National Education Associate offers a super set of dental-oriented science experiments worksheets, which you can download here. Highlights include a dramatic demonstration of an acid attack on bones (which are rich in calcium, just like teeth) that can help kids to visualize what happens to their teeth when they consume sugary foods and beverages. Other experiments included in the set will convince kids of the magical powers of dental floss and fluoride.
Renaissance Dental offers a downloadable booklet of fun dental facts, which you can access here. A warning for the super- sensitive: a few of the facts may seem a little gross (especially to grownups). Here’s one:
- On a daily basis, your mouth is home to over 100,000,000 micro-creatures who are swimming, feeding, reproducing, and depositing waste in your mouth. Makes you want to brush your teeth, doesn’t it?
Well … yes, it does, and it also makes me want to gargle with boiling water.
You are, of course, the best judge on your kids’ likely reaction to knowing the nitty-gritty details about the interesting things that are happening in his or her mouth. Though chances are good that your kid will prefer the icky facts to safer but equally interesting ones, such as:
- We use our teeth to bite and chew, but did you know dolphins only use their teeth to grasp? Dolphins can’t chew, because dolphins’ jaws have no muscles.
- Dental floss was first manufactured in 1882. If you floss once a day, you will use about 5 miles of floss over your lifetime! Dental floss isn’t just for teeth—a prison inmate in West Virginia braided floss into a rope, scaled the prison wall and escaped.
- If you brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, you will brush your teeth for about 24 hours each year, or 76 days over the course of your life! All this brushing will use about 20 gallons of toothpaste.
Renaissance Dentistry offers yet another spiffy dental-care download featuring coloring sheets , mazes and other fun activities, get your copy here.
For video resources, you can browse through PBS’ toothy clips here.
Last but not least, teachers and parents will also find a wealth of educational resources at the Open Wide Tooth School, right here.
Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month!
If you’d like more information about the savings offered by :DentalPlans, please call 1-866-815-6963.