Teaching your kids to brush their teeth can sometimes be a struggle. My daughter has gone through stages of loving to brush her teeth, and also hating it. At her first visit to the dentist, he told me that we would need to floss her bottom teeth because they were very close together. After a few failed attempts, she suddenly loves to floss them on her own! By making it a fun game, she took over the activity herself, and actually enjoys it. Using a fun story and imaginative characters is a great way to get kids interested in dental health. It can also help them to understand the importance of proper dental hygiene. I was thrilled when I found this awesome company which does just that.
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The Brushies were created by a pair of doctor moms (a dentist and a child psychologist) who decided to make brushing more fun. They created a group of characters who teach kids about the importance of brushing to combat the damage that sugar can do to teeth. The durable storybook The Brushies: Make Brushing Fun introduces kids to the four fun characters through peppy rhymes and bright illustrations. There are also tips included for parents to use while getting kids on a good dental care routine.
Meeting the Brushies
Each character has a matching finger puppet toothbrush, which parents or kids can use while reading the story. My daughter was so excited to open the toothbrushes and she has been wanting to play with them ever since. They not only teach her about brushing her teeth, but they are helping her work on her fine motor skills and dexterity. She likes placing them on each of her fingers so she has a whole handful of them.
She also had fun using them to brush the teeth of all of her toys. They are non-toxic, made out of 100% food-grade silicone, and BPA and phthalate-free. They are also dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean – an important attribute with kids! The bristles are incredibly soft, so they would be gentle enough for a baby, or for a teething toddler.
I decided to use her interest in dental health to get her excited for some learning activities. The Brushies gave us a great jumping off point to practice some important skills while having fun!
Practicing good dental care
Brushing Practice – Draw an oversized tooth on a piece of cardstock (I used a paper plate). Give kids some shaving cream or toothpaste and have them spread it around the tooth with an old toothbrush. Emphasize the importance of getting to all parts of the tooth to make sure it is clean!
Flossing Practice – This is a fun and easy way to teach kids about the importance of flossing, as well as how to do it. I was surprised when the dentist told me I would have to start flossing my daughter’s teeth so early. Since she was teething, I was barely getting her to let me brush them! Luckily, she has been really fantastic about it. This activity gives her more practice and helps her to see why it’s necessary.
I placed pink play dough in the ridges of a Mega Bloks block and gave her a long piece of yarn. We talked about how food can get stuck in between your teeth just like the play dough got stuck in the blocks. Using the yarn, I helped her to get between the play dough and the block and get the pieces out. She had a lot of fun with it and it was so easy to set up and clean!
Using teeth to practice letters
Letter Recognition Teeth – This is a fun way to talk to kids about brushing while incorporating some practice with letter recognition. Using an empty Styrofoam egg carton and a wipe-off marker, write letters (or sight words for older kids), on each bump or “tooth”. Have kids use an old toothbrush to brush the letter or word off of the “tooth” as they identify it and say it out loud. You can dip the toothbrush in water if the marker is difficult to wipe off. My daughter thought it was a lot of fun to watch the letters wipe away.
Fine Motor Threading – My daughter loves to do projects that use her fine motor skills. I was recently inspired by a similar craft on Homebound But Hopeful, and decided that this was a great time to do something similar. (Check out her fun threading project here!) Using pink pipe cleaners and white pony beads, I had my daughter thread the “teeth” onto the pipe cleaner. I encouraged her to count them as she added them to the “gums”. This would also be a great way to work on addition with kids. Have them add teeth to two pipe cleaners, then put them together like a mouth and add all the teeth up.
Add up the teeth
Counting Teeth – We have been working on counting lately, so talking about teeth gave us a great manipulative to count with. I created two “gums” out of pink play dough (I used the homemade one we made here). I laid out a pile of white pony beads and asked her to add 1 tooth to the mouth. She added additional teeth while I called out different numbers, then we counted them all. This activity gave her a fun sensory experience, as well as fine motor practice and practice in counting. She loved squishing the beads down into the play dough.
It is so important to teach kids about proper dental hygiene from a young age. The habits they develop now can help or hurt them later in life. By making brushing fun, you can get kids excited for it and even review some other skills in the process! I highly recommend checking out The Brushies and getting kids started on a lifetime of good dental health!