What's in Your Mouth?
Children must brush and floss their teeth daily in order to maintain a healthy mouth. Below are a few activities you can do to help this practice become a habit.
For 3 and 4 Year Olds
- Help your child count his or her teeth: How many are on the bottom? How many are on the top? How many do you have altogether?
- Young children have difficulty estimating time. To help your child brush for the full 2 minutes, choose one of his/her favorite songs that runs about 2 minutes and play it while your child brushes.
- Using simple art materials (crayons, paper, markers), draw faces that have big, toothy smiles.
- Look through old magazines to find different smiles. Cut out some of them and, together with your child, make up stories about what may have made the person in the picture smile.
- Visit The American Dental Association Web site with your child to watch some fun, short videos about oral health. In particular, this age child might enjoy the dinosaur, Dudley, and his friends in "Brush and Floss," "Dudley and Gramps Brush and Floss," and "Dudley's Dental Island." The last video shows how to floss.
For 5 and 6 Year Olds
- Help your child count his or her teeth: How many are on the bottom? How many are on the top? How many have you lost? How many do you have altogether? Then, compare the sizes of your teeth. How do they compare in size to older children or the adults in the family?
- Play a time-estimation game. Have your child try to guess how close she or he came to brushing the full 2 minutes. Then, use a clock or set a cooking timer to 2 minutes. Have your child tell you when he or she thinks 2 minutes have passed. Check the clock to help your child get a better feel for passing time.
- Create a monthly chart that shows how well your child brushed his or her teeth each day.
- Flossing is an important part of oral health. There are several types of flossing tools, from using just the floss twirled around the fingers to a toothbrush-like handle with a little brush at the end to a harp-shaped tool that is easy to grasp. Allow your child to choose the one he or she feels is best. Have your child brush and rinse and, then, floss and rinse again so your child can see what the brush missed!
- Visit The American Dental Association interactive Web site "Visit the Dentist with Marty" and their site "Dudley and Friends" with your child to watch some fun videos about oral health. In particular, this age child might enjoy the dinosaur, Dudley, and his friends in "Smile Scrapbook, " "Healthy Snacks with Dudley," and "Losing Your Baby teeth with Dudley and Charlie."