Last month was Little Bee's first visit to the dentist. To prepare him for his visit, I set up several fun teeth cleaning activities. These dental hygiene tips and tricks include ways to encourage a toddler or preschooler to brush and floss their teeth thoroughly. Also, at the end of the post, there is a collection of dental health activities from some of the best kid bloggers at the Kid Blogger Network.
Jaw Model Tooth Brushing Practice
I purchased this fabulous jaw model from Amazon to help Little Bee understand the structure and anatomy of a human mouth. He practiced brushing each tooth with one of his toothbrushes and shaving cream (instead of toothpaste.) The shaving cream was more economical and also it added an element of fun to this activity.
Jaw Model Flossing Activity
A wonderful feature of this jaw model is that there is a small space in between each tooth. This provided an opportunity for Little Bee to practice flossing. In this series of photos, Little Bee is very focused on this task. He learned how to hold the floss at different angles in order to work it between the teeth.
Jaw Nomenclature Cards
I printed these 3-part teeth/jaw nomenclature cards from the Montessori Print Shop. I briefly introduced these cards to Little Bee for matching work. I pointed to each card and read the word to Little Bee. My goal was to help him become familiar with the names of his teeth. When he is older, we will revisit these cards and study them in more detail.
Brushing Away the Nasty Germs
I wanted Little Bee to grasp the concept that germs live on our teeth and we must brush the germs away. I printed and laminated this picture of a tooth. Then I cut a small square from a dish sponge and glued it onto a large popsicle stick. Little Bee colored the tooth with a dry erase marker. We discussed how these marks represented tooth germs. Then Little Bee thoroughly erased all the marks with his pretend tooth brush.
Montessori Practical Life - Tooth Brushing Steps
After completing all these fun activities, Little Bee practiced the steps for brushing his own teeth. 1. Wet his toothbrush 2. Put a dab (size of a pea) of toothpaste on his toothbrush 3. Brush his teeth (We sing a song while brushing to help Little Bee brush all the parts of his teeth.) 4. Rinse his toothbrush and his mouth 5. Put his toothbrush away
*Please note that we have a step stool at the sink so that Little Bee can reach the faucet himself. You can also buy an extender for the faucet if your child isn't able to reach the faucet handle. This facilitates independence in the child and encourages a willingness to brush their own teeth.
Little Bee is also learning how to use mouthwash and floss his own teeth. He very carefully pours the mouthwash into the little cup and then gargles it in his mouth. I make sure to emphasize that he is not to swallow the mouthwash, and instead spit it out when he is done. He has always followed these instructions.
5 Tips and Tricks to Help Your Child Brush their Own Teeth without a Fight
- Add an element of fun to the process by watching a tooth brushing video.
- Sing a song while brushing the child's teeth.
- Let your child practice brushing their doll's teeth or a toy with teeth like a dinosaur.
- Let your child brush their own teeth as much as possible and only step in to brush if absolutely necessary. Tip: My child was more apt to let me "finish" brushing his teeth if we talked about the "nasty teeth germs" that were hiding in the back of his mouth. Only mommy could reach back there and really get those nasties out!
- Buy several kid toothbrushes for your child to use. Let them choose which one they want to use at each tooth brushing session. There are a variety of toothbrushes out there: sing-a-song, suction cup, blinking lights, cartoon characters, and various fun colored toothbrushes. It's important to keep the tooth brushing process fun and not a chore.
*Below you will find a list of 10 Dental Hygiene Tips and Tricks from some of the best bloggers of the Kid Blogger Network.
10 Dental Hygiene Tips & Tricks with Helpful Resources
Learning about Dental Health ~ Adventures in Mommydom
Dental Unit with Free Printables ~ Every Star is Different
Preparing for 1st Trip to the Dentist ~ Playground Parkbench
Fun and Easy Way to Teach Kids to Brush Teeth Effectively ~ Kara Carrero
Children's Books about Teeth and Oral Hygiene ~ Kara Carrero
Toys to Teach Kids about Dental Hygiene ~ Kara Carrero
Teach Children to Floss Teeth with Play Dough! ~ Sugar, Spice, and Glitter
Your Baby's First Dentist Visit & Toddler Tooth Care Tips ~ The Soccer Mom Blog
5 Tips for Getting Your Kids Brushing Teeth Without a Fight ~ What's Up Fagans