At Birch Dental, we know your little one’s smile fills you with joy and pride; smiles are a source of joy and pride for us, too! We cherish the opportunity to help build a foundation that will ensure your child has a healthy smile for life. But, we know before they become oral hygiene pros, they’re not quite sure why interrupting playtime to brush their teeth is necessary—or why you won’t let them have more sugary drinks and snacks.
Luckily, there are many fun ways to teach them the importance of dental health. Newport Beach dentist Dr. Justin Hsieh has a few suggestions you can try out with your child, and if questions come up that you’re not sure how to answer, don’t hesitate to contact us and schedule a visit! We love sharing our knowledge and showing families that oral health is a gift that keeps on giving!
Demonstrating how to remove the nitty-gritty from your little one’s mouth is a good precursor to explaining the nitty-gritty of what can happen if they skip brushing and flossing (whether it’s with the traditional string variety, soft picks, or perhaps a WaterPik® meant for kids).
We find large model mouths especially helpful, and they can be fun to put together! If you have access to white Styrofoam™ egg cartons or ice cube trays, you can create the teeth of your model. If you’re going with the egg cartons, you can cut the rows apart and glue, tape, or staple them on cardboard to imitate the upper and lower rows of teeth. For a (slightly) more realistic look, you can paint the cardboard pink! Once you’ve got the mouth ready, your child can practice brushing each tooth and flossing between the spaces.
If you’ve got white ice cube trays, a dry erase marker, a craft stick (or a popsicle stick), felt, and glue, you can create another mouth and toothbrush model. Glue the felt to the top of your stick, and you’ve got yourselves a toothbrush that will scrub dry-erase ink from the ice cube trays. You can even spell out plaque, tartar, and bacteria with the dry erase marker, which could make wiping away that ink feel especially satisfying.
To add to the fun, you can also bust out some play dough (either homemade or store-bought will work) and place it between the spaces of the carton or ice cube tray teeth, then remove the buildup with pipe cleaners or yarn. This step is great for teaching children the importance of flossing. You can tell them, “Your heroic toothbrush needs a sidekick to remove the dangerous, bad-breath causing bugs that it can’t reach alone.”
Those words might sound scary, and the truth is, they can be. If your child’s oral health defense isn’t strong enough, they’ll be susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. Teaching them healthy habits from the beginning goes a long way toward creating strong, beautiful smiles they can be just as proud of as you are. And luckily, little ones really want to follow in the footsteps of the people they’re closest to, so setting a positive example by caring for your smile will make a big difference.
With the serious warning out of the way, we’d love to talk about a fun science experiment you can conduct with your little learner!
You won’t actually need a lab coat or goggles, but you will need 4 hardboiled eggs and the imagination to pretend they’re teeth. You’ll also need:
When you’ve got your cups or jars of each liquid ready, carefully place 1 hardboiled egg in each, with the shells still intact. Leave the eggs to soak overnight, then prepare to be amazed (or have your predictions confirmed) by your findings the following day!
The egg that sat overnight in soda is likely to be deeply stained—this is where the toothpaste or baking soda and the toothbrush come in handy. Have your child see if the staining can be scrubbed off. The egg might return to its former appearance with enough scrubbing, but it may lead to the questions, “What is this soda doing to the rest of my body?” and “Is drinking soda worth the erosion it causes?”
Depending on the juice chosen, it might not have changed the color of your hardboiled egg much, but the coating of the shell may become gritty, and your child’s toothbrush might pick up some color as you scrub it. The potency of vinegar softens the shell to the point that the egg can be squeezed without cracking. Lastly, the water tends to have no visible effect. Water is neutral on the pH scale, which makes it an excellent beverage choice, and creates the opportunity to talk about how acidity and alkalinity can create illness or wellness!
And to think this all began with a topic seemingly as simple as teeth! Your child’s smile may be more full of wonder after these activities, and Birch Dental would love to encourage their curiosity and help their smiles stay healthy and strong as they continue learning and growing. Contact Dr. Hsieh today to schedule their next checkup!
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
*Dr. Justin Hsieh is a general dentist providing pediatric services.
5140 Birch Street Suite 100
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Please call us at (949) 942-8855 or fill out the form below to request an appointment.