D: Tools and resources that will help you teach kids about dental health & hygiene, including free printables for parents & teachers.
Teaching Children About Dental Health & Hygiene
This page is designed for parents, teachers, and anyone else who wants to educate kids about proper dental hygiene. We hope you find these ideas and free printable resources helpful.
Teaching children the importance of dental health
According to dental experts, one of the most powerful motivations can be to show kids pictures of eroded teeth and diseased mouths. Such images will help get the point across about how important it is to take care of your teeth. Simply do a Google image search for “bad teeth” or “dental disease” and print out a few to motivate your kids. For parents, hanging a picture in the bathroom by the mirror for a few weeks can serve as an everyday reminder of why we brush. Hang a clean mouth with perfect teeth on the other side. For teachers, use these as discussion pictures for a fun group time activity. Go through each picture of a bad mouth, asking the kids what they think happened and talking about how we can protect our own teeth from such outcomes.
Talk about how we can only eat certain foods with good teeth. For instance, ice cream hurts to eat if your teeth are bad, and hard foods can’t be eaten at all if you lose your teeth.
H2: Teaching kids about good and bad foods for teeth
Talk with kids about different foods and whether they’re good or bad for the teeth. Some good foods might be…
- Sugar free gum
And some of the worst foods are things like…
- Sugary foods
- Candy (soft, chewy candies more so than hard candies)
Have a discussion about why they think each of these foods are good or bad, and then let them think up their own foods and where they think each would fall on the spectrum – good, bad, or in-between.
Be sure to emphasize that just because something is a “bad food” it doesn’t mean we can’t eat it. It just means we shouldn’t eat it too often and we should take extra precautions to clean our teeth afterwards. Some foods that are bad for teeth (like juice) may be good for our body, so it’s simply a matter of awareness, not avoidance.
Dental health rules to teach kids
There are several simple rules that will help protect kids’ teeth:
Rinse after eating Rinsing after eating clears away acidic residues and food particles that can damage teeth. Get kids in the habit of swooshing and spitting after every meal; after they finish a piece of candy; or after finishing juice or soda.
Brushing Brush twice a day, but not too soon after eating acidic food like sugar or pickles. Many adults train kids to brush immediately after eating, which can weaken tooth enamel. When they do brush, train them to do so for 2 minutes, brushing all sides of the teeth and on the gums as well.
Flossing once a day Explain the purpose of flossing to kids: It gets between those areas where teeth are touching in order to clear away the sugar bugs and bacteria that get in the cracks, so that we don’t get cavities there.