For your children to appreciate and respect the importance of their teeth, they should understand some principles about them. They are more likely to care for them if they recognise their importance and worth. Maintaining your teeth does take a few moments every day, but the benefits of this more than compensate for it. This piece aims to explain ways to teach kids about cavities.
1. Explain to your kids – in simple terms – what exactly a dental cavity is. Show them pictures of rotten teeth and gums and this will illustrate what will happen if they fail to care for their teeth with diligence. A picture tells a thousand words. These pictures can be found online where you should also get some useful information.
2. Set up a “cavity buffet” with all the bad foods. For instance, sugary sweets, chewing gum, carbonated soda drinks, juices made with a high fructose content, cake, brownies, chocolate candy bars. Explain to them that these foods are fine if they are taken in moderation, but it’s important for them to clean their teeth expediently.
3. Try to acquire a model of an adult’s mouth – specifically the teeth – and use this to show your child how to brush their teeth. Explain where they would typically get a cavity and how to avoid these by brushing in the hard-to-reach places, crevices and cracks, as well as on the front teeth. This is a very practical way of teaching kids about cavities.
4. Sometimes smaller children can relate to a cartoon character or a puppet. They tend to rationalise ideas and concepts from these better than they may do from an adult. So, it might be worth trying to use a puppet – with nice teeth – to talk to your child about teeth and cavities. Let him explain which foods are healthy and good for their teeth and which ones should be avoided.
5. Be a little creative with your ideas and set up a cavity craft, using foam peanuts as teeth. Then draw a large face on a piece of paper and get your child to insert the foam peanuts into the pictures as teeth. Cut out a small piece of the foam – colour it black – and explain that this is a cavity and a dentist will have to fix it. Organise some white modeling clay and insert this in the place of the “cavity”. Explain that this is what the dentist does to fix cavities.
These are some exciting ways to teach kids about cavities, and maybe they will give you some other ideas as well. It’s so important for children to be able to put a value on their teeth and how to respect this.