dentist teaching child how to brush her teeth using a mouth model

Teeth And Tongue: Fun Ways To Teach Kids About Mouth Anatomy

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Parents and teachers are responsible for teaching their kids some lessons that they'll use for the rest of their lives. Proper manners. Reading and writing. Basic math. But let's add their mouth to this equation. Sure there's brushing — a vital part of their dental health. But there's a lot more for them to learn besides brushing in the morning and at bedtime makes their dentist happy. Check out the fun ways below on how to educate them on their entire mouth.

Mouth Self Portrait

Let's paint a picture, shall we? But we mean a literal picture for your kids. It's a lot more fun at a young age to see something and understand it than to explain it with words. Here's what you'll need:

  • Paper and crayons/markers
  • A handheld mirror
  • Maybe scissors and glue if you want to create depth

Have your child open their mouth big while you show it to them with the mirror. Explain to them what's going on in there beyond the teeth. Be sure to point out their:

  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Top and bottom of their mouth

Then together, try drawing what you see and label them (if they're able to write) appropriately. It's their mouth blueprint, a science project, and an art craft all at once.

Proper Brushing

We know how important brushing can be for children and adults. But teaching your kids the proper way to brush is also crucial. So keep those art supplies out and try this:

  • Take some dark construction paper and outline the shape of a tooth
  • Have your child paint the tooth white with a toothbrush
  • Make sure they "brush" the entire tooth
  • Try different motions and techniques to make sure the whole tooth is cleaned properly

After painting, go directly to the sink and have them apply their new skill to their own teeth. Music, games, and experiments are also a good way for them to learn.

Supermarket Collage

Knowing how to brush your teeth is one thing. Knowing which foods are healthy for your teeth is another. So let's go back to art class and grab:

  • Construction paper
  • Crayon or marker
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Grocery store flyers

Label one side "good" and one side "bad." Then let your child cut out food items from the flyer and have them glue or tape them to which side they think it belongs to regarding their oral health. Explain why each food goes on their respective side. Be sure to point out sweet treats, desserts, and highly acidic and sugary food and beverages — as they're a major cause for tooth decay.

Taste Challenge

You know how couples do a taste test before their wedding? Well, consider this your child's taste test. But instead of picking their favorite food, they'll learn about all the different types of tastes they can experience. Those include:

  • Sweetness
  • Sourness
  • Saltiness
  • Bitterness
  • Savoriness

Describe each and how it's the taste buds' job on their tongue to decipher which they're tasting and then to let your child know if it finds the taste agreeable or not. See if your child can identify the different tastes while also explaining that just because they like the taste doesn't mean it's healthy. That's key, parents.

Cavity Spread

One last art project to help explain how bad cavities can be for your child. Here's your supply list:

  • Paper towel
  • Permanent marker
  • Watercolor marker

Draw a larger tooth on the paper towel with the permanent marker. Then place a dot on the tooth with the watercolor marker and add a drop of water to it. Explain how the dot is the cavity and how the decay that caused it can keep spreading when you eat unhealthy foods. And be sure to conclude this art project by explaining that if you don't brush your teeth, there's a good chance your kid will get cavities.

The above exercises are just a few to help teach your child about their mouth and what it needs to stay happy and healthy. The American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Dental Federation all have resources specifically designed for children's oral health. And don't forget about your dentist — there's a good chance they're a parent who's been down this road themselves.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

paper airplane

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