You already know that teaching proper brushing and flossing at an early age is a great way to start your child on a path to a lifetime of healthy smiles. But you may also know that it’s hard to make this process enjoyable, and may be hard to teach. At our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we hear this a lot. So what do you do when brushing is more like pulling teeth than saving teeth? You try to make it as fun as possible. And we’ve got an idea to help.
A great way to start the lesson or game, is to turn the egg carton upside down and encourage your child to imagine the carton as a mouth. The protrusions will serve as our “teeth” and the spaces in between are the “gums.” If you’d like to turn it into a game of make believe, allow your child to dress up like a dentist with some rubber gloves, a mask, and white coat.
Next, take the pieces of colored paper and explain that these are like pieces of food — blue paper can be blueberries, red can be apples, green, broccoli. Take the slips of paper and place them on the “teeth” and in the “gums” and tell a story about how this person just ate a healthy meal but there are pieces sticking around, and if they’re left there, dangerous things can happen to the teeth.
Encourage your child to take the hair brush and make it his goal to remove all pieces of lingering food without doing it too roughly as to damage the “teeth.” This is why a styrofoam carton works well as it’s more easily damaged than a cardboard carton. Not only can this be a fun game for your child, it helps him learn and appreciate the importance of brushing to remove all food particles and to do it in a gentle way so as not to damage gums or teeth.
If your child is having a hard time learning to brush or the importance of brushing, try the tips above. If you need more ideas, give our Long Island pediatric dental office a call. We’re all about prevention and can help parents find ways to make sure their children enjoy proper at-home care.
Always welcoming kids from Long Island, Westbury, and Nassau County.