Teaching your child good oral care can sometimes be tricky. Dentist games for kids of every age can ease the fear of dental visits and resistance toward brushing and flossing. Whether you have a toddler or tween, try these creative games and activities from the Colgate Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Program to educate your kids about dental visits and the importance of oral health.
Benefits of Using Games
In a parent's busy schedule, it might be tempting to discount the importance of primary teeth or sticking to regular dental visits. However, according to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, healthy primary teeth help your child speak more clearly and hold the spaces when their permanent teeth later erupt.
At any age, it's natural to be apprehensive of pain or the prick of a needle. As the American Dental Association (ADA) explains, younger children may find the dentist's office upsetting because they don't feel comfortable. You can use dentist games and learning activities as fun, approachable methods of enforcing that going to the dentist is essential to your health. These can prompt kids to talk about their fears and anxieties more easily and help them feel more prepared — and in control — during their dental visits.
Sticker Chart: How Many Teeth Do I Have?Toddlers love investigating their faces in mirrors. Get your child used to opening their mouth and using a toothbrush by counting out their teeth with the toothbrush while they look in a mirror. Gently guide the brush around their mouth while counting. You can track the amount of teeth they have on a chart. For every successful tooth brushing you do with them, add a sticker to the chart and tell them they get to show their dentist at their next visit!
Toddler Sing-AlongsIf it's a daily struggle to get the morning and evening tooth brushing accomplished, a little educational screen time with some songs and videos curated by the ADA may help get your toddler in the groove. You can even have a sing-along dance party to these tunes while they brush their teeth for two minutes.
Pretend DentistKids love to play pretend. So, why not act out their dental visit with them? This is a great way to prepare them before heading to the office. Stanford Children's Health advises not to relate any anxieties you might have about the dentist. Instead, model a kind and gentle dentist, and encourage your kids to feel pride and accomplishment after completing all parts of their visit. Then, switch places from being the dentist to being their patient! There are even apps you can use with your child to explore the different tools a dentist uses.
Digital Dental Health GamesIntroduce digital dental health games that expose your kids to terms such as "plaque" or "oral care," and teach them the importance of a good diet with puzzles, memory games and other fun activities. Get in on playtime, and allow them to educate you on what they learned.
Ideas for School-Age Children and Tweens
School-age kids may know it's important to brush their teeth and get checkups, but to keep their engagement with their dental visits high, try these relatable and fun games.
"Icky" Smile CompetitionHere's some hands-on fun: Grab some plaque-disclosing tablets from your local drugstore. These reveal where plaque remains and where you need to brush. Compete to see who has the "ickier" smile, and get their friends in on the fun. Then, get brushing together.
Toothless TalkingWant to drive home how important oral care and regular checkups are? Challenge your child to talking without using their teeth, with their lips in a pursed position. Not only is it fun (and almost impossible), but you can impress upon your growing child that their commitment to good oral health now can help them avoid tooth loss as well as gum disease later on. Do it with them and try to have a conversation!
For a successful dental visit, plan ahead. Ensure your child is well rested, well fed and educated on what to expect in the dental office. Good experiences early on will help create successful habits for a lifetime.