Why should you talk to the children in your care about dental health? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), cavities are five times more common than asthma and seven times more common than hay fever in young children. The AAP website also states that the tooth pain that results from cavities and tooth decay can prevent many students from coming to school and/or distract them from learning. Teaching children about the importance of dental health in an educational environment is one way to address these issues and give children the information they need to make healthy choices.
At Kaplan Early Learning Company, we understand that a variety of factors can influence children's learning, which is why we offer educational materials and quality resources that can help teachers find solutions for issues impacting the classroom and affecting students. For more information about teaching children the importance of dental health, check out the tips, free resources, and learning materials below.
What You Can Do
Dental health may begin at home, but it's up to educators to also make it a point of focus in the classroom. The only way we can decrease the number of children with cavities (and ultimately decrease the number of adults with dental issues) is to talk about dental health in different environments and with different age groups. Explaining why dental health is important and teaching children the best way to brush and floss their teeth can go a long way in preventing cavities and other dental health issues. Here are a few ways you can emphasize the importance of dental health in your classroom:
1. Make dental health a part of your curriculum and lesson plans.
Including dental health in your curriculum and lesson plans will reinforce its importance and help children learn how to stay healthy. Try to include a variety of activities related to dental health in your lesson plans, especially during National Children's Dental Health Month (February). Make sure you also have various books about teeth and/or visiting the dentist's office, tooth models, and other educational materials in the learning environment.
2. Invite a dentist or someone from your county's health department to speak with children about dental health.
A dentist or county health official can demonstrate the best way to brush and floss teeth and can answer any questions children or parents have about dental health. A visit from a local dentist can also help children feel more comfortable going to the dentist and getting their teeth cleaned. If you can't find someone to come speak with your students about dental health, try to find a video about brushing and flossing or going to the dentist for your students to watch.
3. Encourage dental health at all ages by providing tips and resources for parents and children.
Come up with ways to remind both children and parents of the importance of dental health–try hanging up posters about dental health in the classroom, creating related family engagement activities, or sending home pamphlets with children. You can also encourage parents of young children to follow the Brush, Book, Bed program by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Be sure to check out our list of free resources for a variety of other helpful websites and resources you can share with children and their families.
"Brushing Up on Oral Health: Never Too Early to Start" (American Academy of Pediatrics)
"Taking Care of Your Teeth" (KidsHealth® from Nemours)
"Dental Caries (Tooth Decay) in Children (Age 2 to 11)" (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research)
"Oral Health – At A Glance" (CDC)
"Brush Up on Healthy Teeth: Simple Steps for Kids' Smiles" (CDC)
Healthy Children (by American Academy of Pediatrics)
Children Dental Health Project
American Dental Association
MedlinePlus (by U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health)
MouthHealthy (by the American Dental Association)