A child’s good dental habit starts or is learned at home and it should be continued in daycare centers. That is why part of the daily activity in daycare is the brushing of teeth including some lessons on dental care.
Dental Care for Toddlers
According to the guidelines of AAPD or American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a fluorinated toothpaste must only be introduced to children when they are already two to three years old. They must brush their teeth daily twice a day by using only water and toothbrush with soft bristles. They must experience visiting the dentist by the time they turned one.
Only a pea-sized toothpaste must be used by the toddlers together with a soft-bristled toothbrush. The daycare provider must supervise the brushing activity of the children to be sure that they do not swallow the toothpaste. But if a child does not know to spit yet, he can use a non-fluoridated one.
Encouraging Brushing to Toddlers
Normally, toddlers resist to brush their teeth. It entails a lot of effort to practice for them brush themselves alone or even attempting to assist them. The following are tips to encourage brushing of toddlers:
o Use electric toothbrush designed with different colours and cartoon characters they prefer. Children will enjoy using them and at the same time electric toothbrush are more effective as compared with the standard toothbrush.
o The recommended time of brushing is two minutes. To achieve this and become a habit, let the toddlers sing while brushing or you may use musical timer which is set for 2 minutes.
o You can reward toddlers by giving them colourful stickers after a successful brushing activity.
o Be a model in providing care for your teeth. Toddlers can see you brush and also floss every after meals/snacks. You can also easily teach them the proper brushing techniques by brushing your teeth with them.
Lessons and Different Activities on Dental Health
o In your lesson plan, include topics on dental hygiene. Lessons on what food to eat and avoid to have healthy teeth and how cavities are developed. Also, the role of dentists and the benefits of a regular visit to a dental clinic are informative topics for the toddlers.
o You can read great stories with the characters who love tooth brushing, like Brush Your Teeth Please [Reader’s Digest, 1993]. This is a pop-up book which children will surely enjoy.
o You can visit the website of Colgate to receive free kits on dental health for the children under your care. The kit includes curriculum ideas, teaching aids, handouts, and dental activities.
o Set up a good puppet show which demonstrates a good dental habit. You may also put dental items in the show for the children to “play dentist”. Dental items could be toothbrush, dental mirrors, white smocks, etc.
These dental health lessons and activities would encourage healthy dental habits in children to help prevent tooth decay. Do not expect that they can already clean sufficiently their teeth. They can brush unsupervised when they are around six or seven years old. Therefore after every time they practice tooth brushing, you brush them thoroughly as a follow up, as well. With this, they develop independence while learning a good dental habit.