How to Plan a Dental Health Unit for Kids
February is dental health month, but sometimes it’s hard to find a way to teach dental hygiene to young kids. It can seem like a difficult concept to talk about, but I have come up with several ways to make kids realize the importance of their teeth and how to care for them.
How to plan a dental health unit for kids
There are several concepts that kids need to understand about their teeth. In my town, I can call the health department and they will send a hygienist out to talk with the kids about brushing and oral hygiene. It’s lots of fun. She brings puppets and videos for the kids to enjoy. My favorite is her horse puppet with the giant teeth. It’s so cute.
Brushing their teeth regularly, eating healthy food, and visiting a dentist for check ups are three important things kids need to learn. There are many great books to read with kids that help teach these concepts.
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Teach kids to brush their teeth
I have a set of big teeth that was a gift from a very thoughtful daycare family who knew I had always wanted them. They are great to show the kids all the surfaces of the teeth and how to reach them all with different brush strokes. They are also wonderful for the kids to practice on. They LOVE doing this and it makes them think about how to brush their own teeth.
If you don’t have a set of big teeth, you can hard boil some eggs (providing you don’t have egg allergies to worry about) and let the kids brush the eggs with a toothbrush.
Get free toothbrushes for your class
Colgate has an awesome program to give teachers toothbrushes. I love to order every year and it’s completely free! Click here to order yours! The kit always has a game and a video to help stretch your lesson plans. They give out a limited number of kits, so if you miss the deadline, there are still a bunch of cool printables to use.
Teach kids to eat things that are healthy for their teeth
Junk food is bad for our teeth. It’s never too early to teach kids that even though candy and soda taste good, it’s better to use moderation when consuming them. Cut pictures from magazines of all kinds of foods. Cake, cookies, milk, sandwiches, any pictures you can find. You need a variety of junk food and healthy food.
Kids also need to learn what kinds of food build and strengthen their teeth for a long life of healthy teeth. Letting them use pictures of milk, cheese, and other tooth building foods is a great way to demonstrate what is good for their dental future.
There are several things you can have kids do with your cut outs. Here are two that I do: Cut a big tooth out of white poster board (to signify a healthy tooth) and one out of black poster board (to signify a rotten tooth). Let the kids tell you if the food in the picture is good for their teeth or bad and then glue it to the corresponding tooth.
Another idea is to give each child a paper plate. Tell them to choose good food choices to glue to their plates. It’s okay if they chose a little bit of sweets. That’s a good way to talk to them about limiting junk and brushing after a sugary snack. If your kids are older, you can give them the magazines and let them find the pictures themselves.
Show kids what junk does to their teeth
You can explain to your kids that egg shells are made of calcium similar to their bones and that teeth are bones. Place a raw egg in a glass of vinegar and observe what happens to it over time. Explain to the kids that vinegar is like the acids that are in sugary foods and how they break down the enamel on their teeth just like the vinegar softens the egg shell. It’s a great science lesson too. This activity can actually be done with a chicken bone as well. The vinegar will soften the bone in the same way.
In another glass, you can put another white egg. Fill the glass with soda and observe what the soda does to the egg over time. Explain to the kids how soda does the same thing to their teeth. You could even try to brush the soda stains off the egg and see what happens. Click here to see how to get kids to eat healthy.
Lessons that kids can see and feel are great for teaching them lasting lesson. Kids remember a lot more when they can be hands on with their activities. These are great activities that can help kids learn how to care for their teeth better.
Click here for some additional activities from Colgate for teaching dental hygiene.
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