A child develops his dental habit at home and it must be followed up in child care centers. Therefore, it is recommended for the centers to put in their curriculum some dental care lessons. They also have to include in their daily activities the children’s tooth brushing.
Dental Hygiene of Toddlers
Based on the guidelines of American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry or the AAPD, a child must be introduced to fluorinated toothpaste when he is already two years old. Before that age, he must brush with water only. It is also advised that soft bristled toothbrush will be used and he has to brush his teeth twice everyday. His first experience for a dentist visit must be when he turned one year old.
Toddlers must use only a pea-size of toothpaste and a toothbrush with soft bristles. The staff in day care must closely supervise the brushing of children to assure that they are not swallowing the toothpaste. But if someone still does not know how to spit, non-fluoridated toothpaste must be used.
Encourage Toddlers to Brush
It is a normal situation for a toddler to resist brushing. So this requires plenty of effort to practice him to brush. The following are simple tips to help the toddler enjoy his brushing activity:
• Offer electric toothbrush to the child, which is loaded with designs and colours. Children are attracted to bright colours and cartoon characters. The child will enjoy brushing and at the same time enjoy the benefits of an electric toothbrush.
• To achieve the recommended two minute brushing time and eventually become a habit, use a musical timer or let the child sing.
• You can give exciting rewards to the child after he successfully brushed his teeth. You can give colourful stickers and other things that he enjoys to have.
• You have to be a role model to the child with regards to dental hygiene. He must see how you brush and floss after meals. He can easily learn the techniques of brushing if you will brush your teeth with him.
Different Dental Health Activities and Lessons in Day Care
• Incorporate in your lesson plan the topics on dental care. You can discuss the role of a dentist and the importance of regular dental visitation. Make them aware of the right food to take to have healthy teeth and how to prevent cavities.
• During your storytelling activity, you may read books that are related to tooth brushing. You can try Brush Your Teeth Please in the 1993 issue of Reader’s Digest.
• You can browse the site of Colgate for free dental kits. This kit includes handouts, teaching aids, curriculum ideas, and some dental activities.
• You can also conduct a puppet show presentation which focuses on dental habit. You can put some dental items in the presentation so that children can “play dentist” such as toothbrush, toothpaste, dental mirrors, dental chair, white smocks, etc.
With these dental lessons and varied activities, the children will enjoy and at the same time learn good dental habits. Bear in mind that they can not sufficiently brush their teeth yet therefore you have brush them also as follow up every time they finish brushing to develop their independence. A child can be unsupervised at the age of around six to seven.
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