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30 Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Oral Health

Poor oral health causes kids to miss 51 million hours of class time each year and can have a negative impact on their future success. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and Gum Disease Awareness Month, there is no better time to teach kids about keeping their smiles healthy!

You don’t have to be a dental professional to teach kids about proper oral health. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or simply someone who wants to help kids in your community live healthier lives, we’ve compiled lots of engaging resources to make teaching easy and learning fun!

Educational resources from America’s ToothFairy:

  • Can you educate at least 250 children each year? Click here to learn more about our ToothFairy 101® Community Education Kit and custom Resource Kits for eligible entities providing oral health education and outreach.
  • We also offer free downloads that include Tips from the ToothFairy in English and Spanish, scripted lessons, and activity sheets for kids.
  • Caregivers, visit our Programs page to find additional resources including brushing charts and oral care tips for the whole family.


Other great resources:

Get additional activity sheets and more from the American Dental Association

Books:

The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
My First Visit to the Dentist
by Eve Marleau
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Brush, Brush, Brush!
by Alicia Padron
Sugarbug Doug: All About Cavities, Plaque, and Teeth
by Dr. Ben Magleby

For caregivers: Your Child’s Teeth by Evelina Weidman Sterling and Angie Best-Boss

For educators and public health advocates: Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America

Videos:

Check out this great video for young children from our friend, the Native American ToothFairy:


Other great videos:

Catch the Nasties (Colgate)
What Causes Cavities?
(Mel Rosenberg)
What Causes Bad Breath?
(Mel Rosenberg)
Life Stages of Oral Health: Ages 13-19 Teen Teeth
(Delta Dental of Arizona)
Top 10 Dental Hygiene Tips: Oral Hygiene
(Watch Mojo)
10 Ways to Brush Your Teeth
(Life Hacks)
Vaping Risks - What Vaping Can Do to Your Mouth
(Dr. Joseph Nemeth, Periodontist)
What Snus (Smokeless Tobacco) Can Do To Your Gums
(Dr. Joseph Nemeth, Periodontist)
Braces Care Routine
(Teeth Talk Girl)
Just for fun
(Teeth Talk Girl)
For Children with Special Needs: What Happens at the Dentist Office
(Boston Children’s Hospital)

Fun activities to encourage brushing:

  • Conduct a science experiment simulating tooth enamel using hard boiled eggs. Check out this example from Pre-K Pages that is easy to adapt for older children too.
  • Make your own toothpaste:
    4 tsp. Baking soda
    1 tsp. Salt
    1 tsp. Flavoring (such as peppermint extract)
    Mix and store in an airtight container.
    Extra fun: name your toothpaste and create a label for the container.
  • Create oral health posters to hang around school. Have students vote on the best poster and award a prize.
  • Carefully cut the bottom off of a plastic soda bottle. Paint it white to resemble a tooth. Make a runny paste with flour and water (add food coloring if you like) and splatter it on the tooth to resemble food and plaque. Let it harden. Have children attempt to brush the flour mixture away. Show how difficult it is once it has hardened versus before it has had a chance to sit on the “tooth”. Reinforce the importance of brushing for 2 minutes, 2 times each day. (Alternative: use a white egg carton instead of making a tooth.) Or check out this fun version with a plaster mold and hardened Play-Doh. 


Teach kids about the importance of flossing:

  • Young children can practice their technique using Lego/Duplo blocks (shown right), egg cartons or ice cube trays. Stick Play-Doh between and around the base of “teeth” and give the children floss to remove it. Stress the importance of flossing not only to remove food from between the teeth but also to remove plaque below the gum line to prevent the buildup of tartar.
    Click here for more information about proper flossing technique.
  • Craft: Marshmallow Mouth This fun craft is more than a silly tooth-themed project. Use it to teach children proper flossing technique. Download the easy instructions here.
    (Adapt this activity for younger kids.)


Teach kids about foods that are healthy for their teeth.

  • Cut apart a white styrofoam egg carton to make little “teeth”. Give each child their own “tooth” and have them select a snack from a list of foods that include both tooth-friendly and unhealthy options. If they select a tooth-friendly food, use a highlighter or dry erase marker to color food spots on their tooth. If they select an unhealthy food, use a Sharpie or permanent black marker to color food spots on their tooth. Now give the child a toothbrush to brush away their food spots. Explain that the healthy foods are easy to brush away but the unhealthy foods are hard to brush away and can lead to cavities.

    (Refer to our 5 Core Lessons Packet for help with teaching about how unhealthy foods affect our teeth.)
  • Show how sugar helps plaque grow with a science experiment called “Plaque Attack!” It’s a great way to simulate how sugar feeds the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Check out this article that explains how plaque affects our oral health and how to remove it.



We’d love to see your National Children’s Dental Health Month projects in action. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and tag us in your posts!


For more great resources for teaching kids about oral health all year long, subscribe to our HERO e-newsletter!

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