By: Molly Luke, Early Intervention Specialized Instruction Teacher, Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Norristown, PA
Choosy says to brush after meals, or twice a day so let’s try to get on track with this. Start your month off right by hanging a calendar in the bathroom where you and your children brush your teeth. Place a simple color scribble or sticker to track when everyone brushes their teeth on the calendar. When you promote this routine with your little ones, it won’t feel like a battle and will just become an expectation - as routine as putting on clothes when going to school!
Need some motivation? Take a trip to the store to pick out a special toothbrush, rinse cup and flavored toothpaste. Another fun thing is to watch “How It’s Made-Toothpaste”. Take a trip to that factory and see how it forms and the travel to the store.
Another fun thing is to attempt to make your own toothpaste- mostly a baking soda formula. I had my son try homemade toothpaste when he was being a typical-difficult toddler. He hated it- obviously! So when the fruity toothpaste was offered again, he didn’t think twice and easily accepted it.
Most day care and preschool facilities require a dental record at age three. Have you signed up for an appointment yet? To practice, start taking your young one to sit on your lap for your routine 6-month check up. Get them familiarized with the facility, chair, lights and sounds they may hear. And of course- the doctors that wear masks! Most places will pass on FREE masks, toothbrushes, gloves and other items that you can take home. Add this gear to your imagination/dramatic play area at home to reenact a dentist trip. Literature is another way to start pre-teaching about the experience. The more information you can provide prior to the experience, the more comfortable your child may be when the event occurs. Don’t forget CHOOSY’s “BRUSH MY SMILE” short clip that coincides with the music. Watch a neighborhood friend “put a little on the middle of his brush”, brush during certain times of the day and have the happy healthy smile check-up from the dentist.
There are also two dental hygiene activities that I look forward to each year with my students. A little messy, but FUN! Painting. But not just any painting, use a toothbrush as your paint brush! Grab a piece of paper and just free paint using watercolor, tempera paint or even toothpaste. Draw a smile or some teeth if necessary, and “whiten” them up.
The other requires two HARD BOILED white eggs, milk, cola soda, toothbrush, tooth paste and two bowls or cups (clear if possible). After boiling the eggs, place one egg in a container with milk and the other in a container with cola. Let them sit (covered or uncovered) in the refrigerator over night. The next day, see how the eggs change color- just as if you have unhealthy food and drink how your teeth enamel will alter. Use toothpaste on your toothbrush and gently attempt to brush away the stains on the eggs (light pressure, but hard boiled eggs are better than non-hardboiled eggs!). Great before and after teeth science!
However you practice your dental hygiene, just take a moment in the month of February to check in on your healthy routine- and don’t rush!
How did you encourage your children to brush their teeth? How old were they when they finally made it a daily routine without your reminders?
About the Author: Hello! I have been teaching for about 10 years now, ages Pre-K through 8th grade…needless to say, I am a life-long learner and always looking for new thing to challenge my body and brain to do in a classroom! Outside of the classroom, family comes first! My husband Dan, baby Marshall and basset hound Penelope enjoy my naturally caffeinated personality on a regular basis. The whole family enjoys traveling, and I personally have a goal of visiting all 7 continents! 2 more to go!