Preschoolers will be thrilled to see any new face in the classroom, so invite a dental professional to visit the classroom. Invite the special guest to read a story about dental care aloud, show off some of her dental tools and give tips on keeping teeth healthy. Having a friendly dentist explain everything she does in an appointment can make children less frightened of visiting the dentist.
While their parents cared for their teeth when they were babies and toddlers, preschoolers are entering the age when they’ll be responsible for brushing their own teeth. Many preschoolers don’t understand how to do this job thoroughly. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, around 28 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 have some tooth decay, so teaching preschoolers about dental care is essential.
Preschoolers may have a hard time understanding the problems caused by not brushing their teeth, since they can’t see the leftover sugar and food on their teeth. A simple science experiment will demonstrate how foods can damage teeth. Hard-boil two eggs. Place one in a container filled with water and the other in a container filled with cola. Leave the containers overnight. In the morning, remove the eggs and ask children to compare them. They should see that one egg was stained by cola. Explain that the surface on their teeth is delicate like an egg shell, and it can be stained or damaged by leftover food.
Music is an ideal tool to use for teaching lasting lessons. Once a preschooler knows a song about dental care, she can sing it every time she goes to brush her teeth. Make up a song about the steps to take to brush your teeth. For instance, “first we unscrew the toothpaste, you see, then we squeeze out a blob the size of a pea.” Set the song to a familiar tune such as “Wheels on the Bus” or the alphabet song. Make up hand motions for each step and sing the song with preschoolers each day.
Craft projects help preschoolers learn in a hands-on way. Have children draw signs about brushing teeth, or let them practice by making their own fake teeth. Give each child two 4-inch squares of cardboard and a bowl of mini marshmallows. Help each child glue a semi-circle of marshmallows onto each piece of cardboard. When the two boards are sandwiched together, they’ll look like teeth. Each preschooler can lift up the top of his “mouth” and use a real toothbrush to practice brushing every surface of each marshmallow tooth.
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