No matter how old your child is, most likely, they might not want to brush their teeth or take care of their oral health. Fun and enjoyable dental education activities can help make it easier for both you and your child and encourage your child to take care of their teeth. Since kids often learn through play, try one of these fun projects to stimulate some interest in their oral health.
Fun Dental Activities for Children
Whether or not your toddler can use a toothbrush on their own, it’s worth focusing on their techniques and hygiene habits. These activities can help develop good oral hygiene techniques even if your toddler needs a little assistance:
Lego flossing. While pediatric dentists encourage parents to start early with flossing, little hands might not be the best at it, and you might need to step in. Lego flossing can help your toddler understand what flossing is so they won’t be apprehensive about letting you floss for them. A couple of large Lego blocks can be teeth, and play dough can be the “debris” that you put in the building blocks' prongs (much like plaque or bits of food that get stuck in the grooves of your teeth). Use yarn (floss) to remove those pieces of play dough, demonstrating how floss can do the same thing in your child’s mouth.
Construction paper brushing. Show your child how to brush correctly by using construction paper. Cut out a tooth-shaped object using yellow construction paper. Then, hand your child white crayons and ask them to color the yellow away. Explain how brushing removes food and stains from teeth. Remind your child to color every part of the paper and then explain how brushing should be the same: your child needs to get to every nook and cranny of their teeth with their brush.
Once your child is an elementary student, they will most likely be able to brush their teeth independently. However, according to Stanford Children’s Health, your child might need help flossing until they’re 8-10 years old. It's also an excellent time to talk about diet and how different foods can impact oral health. Some dental education activities you can try are:
Eat this, not that. Cut out different pictures of food from magazines. Invite your child to pick the healthy foods out of the bunch, and then explain why foods like candy or soda are bad for their teeth. Alternatively, you can give your child foods like broccoli and cauliflower florets, carrot coins, slices of apples, and nuts, and invite them to create happy faces with the food. After they’ve finished their creation, snap photos of these “happy foods” as a reminder of what foods are good for oral health and create happy teeth.
Waiting for the tooth fairy. Waiting for your child’s baby teeth to fall out can be frustrating for both you and your child, but you can make it fun by creating a personalized tooth fairy carrier for each time your child loses a tooth. Your child can ever write a note to the tooth fairy and then place it in the carrier along with the fallen tooth. This can be an activity you do until your child loses their last baby tooth. Explain to your child why taking care of their primary teeth by brushing and flossing is still essential, even though they eventually fall out.
School-age kids and tweens might not want to be reminded how and when to brush, but you can still make brushing and flossing fun for them. Surprise them with toothbrushes that have their favorite character on them or encourage them to brush by giving them fruit-flavored toothpaste.
Dental education activities can be fun for the entire family and can be a way to bond with your child. It’s normal for kids not to want to brush or floss, but some of these activities can help evoke some excitement and interest in their oral health and set them up for a lifetime of healthy teeth!
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.