Trying a few dental crafts at home with your child can make them feel excited about their first upcoming appointment. The crafts can also be a visual reminder of the importance of oral health.
What Is a Dentist?
A great beginning is to explain to your child what a dentist is. Check out your local library for age-appropriate children's books that have plenty of large pictures. It's also a good idea to pick up some child-friendly oral care items, such as Colgate® Dora the Explorer™ and Colgate® Transformers™ toothbrushes and toothpaste, to pique your child's interest. Telling your child how the dentist keeps teeth clean and healthy is important, but it is easier to show him. One of the most effective ways to reach a child is to include him. Don't limit your child's involvement with your oral care routine to just watching you brush your teeth; take your child with you on your next dental visit. Be aware of how you speak before, during and after the trip, and use lots of positive language. If your child is too young to be unattended, consider bringing along your spouse or a friend to explain what is happening.
Fun Hands-On Activities for Ages 1 1/2–3
Once your little one is old enough to hold a toothbrush and control his movements this is a great activity to try. For this basic dental craft, start by drawing a picture of an open mouth, or print one from a computer. Make sure the teeth are visible. Let your child use a brown crayon or marker to make the teeth in the drawing look dirty. Squirt a small amount of toothpaste onto a plate, and give your child a toothbrush. Show him how to dip the bristles into the toothpaste, and brush it onto the mouth to make the teeth clean. Scented toothpaste can make this arts and crafts time more interactive, but be sure to monitor your child so that he does not consume the toothpaste.
Fun Hands-On Activities for Ages 3–6
For a slightly older child, you can make dental crafts more complex. Save a clean egg carton, and cut it in half so that you have two separate long rows. Provide your child with non-toxic white paint and a paintbrush. Have him paint the egg carton white so that it resembles a row of teeth. Set the egg carton aside to dry. Gather some crayons or markers and a medium-size cardboard box. If he is able, have the child draw a large human face with an open mouth. Use scissors to cut a hole for the mouth. You should give your child a hand with that step. When the teeth are dry, attach them to the mouth with packing tape or sturdy glue. To take this art a step further, have your child show you how to brush his new friend's teeth. The completed project also lends itself well to a lesson in nutrition.
It is important to instill good habits in your children at a young age so that healthy children can become healthy adults. There may be times when explaining oral hygiene is difficult, but now you have a few ways to demonstrate how taking care of teeth can be fun. You may find that you enjoy the craft time just as much as your children!