Use fun activities to convince your preschooler of the importance of brushing her teeth.

Dental Health Theme Ideas for Preschoolers

by Darlene Peer

Brushing teeth is one of those must-do jobs that can turn into a battleground. It's bedtime, and your child is stalling and turning a simple chore into a power struggle once again. The beauty of preschoolers is that you can reason with them. During the day, try a few fun activities to drive home the reasons why brushing teeth is so important. Soon your little one will be nagging you to brush with him.

1. Happy Tooth, Sad Tooth

All you need for this fun hands-on game is your stack of weekly grocery flyers, safety scissors, glue and two pieces of construction paper. On one piece, draw a smiling tooth and on the other draw a sad tooth. Explain the difference between healthy food that keeps teeth happy and junk food that makes teeth sad. Ask your child, "Will this make the tooth happy or sad?" Help cut the pictures out and glue them on the happy tooth. Not only will your child think about how food affects his teeth, he'll also get a chance to practice his fine motor skills by using safety scissors and glue.

2. Brushing until the Tooth is Shiny

It's time to make even the most rotten teeth shine! Cut a large tooth out of brown, grey or yellow construction paper. Explain that this tooth wasn't brushed properly and ask your child if she'd like to show the tooth how to get clean. All she needs is an old toothbrush and a bowl of glue with glitter mixed in, and she's ready to get started. Pay careful attention lest she decide to put some sparkle (and glue) on her own teeth. Get her to brush back and forth until that paper tooth shines!

3. Smiles

Since preschoolers love to talk about themselves, this game should really hit home. Ask your child to draw a picture of himself with a big smile. Encourage him to color his teeth bright white since he does a good job of brushing them every night. Next, ask your little guy to draw a picture of what he would look like if he didn't brush his teeth every night. Encourage him to use colors like green or grey on his teeth. If you have the room, hang both self-portraits in the bathroom near the sink. Bet he won't fight the toothbrush for at least a little while!

4. Fun with Eggs

Pearly white eggs resemble teeth enough to fire up your preschooler's imagination, so they make great props when you're trying to make a point. Boil an egg in water with a tea bag. This will stain the egg brown. Let your child brush the egg with a toothbrush and toothpaste. It will clean the tea right off — just like brushing a real tooth! If your child loves drinking acidic liquids like orange juice or cola, try showing her what those liquids do to teeth. Pour one individual cup each of water, milk, orange juice and a brown cola or root beer. Drop an egg in each cup and leave it for a couple of days. When you pull each egg out, explain that this is what happens if that liquid isn't brushed off of her teeth.

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