Brush Your Teeth!
Proper dental care is an important healthy habit for preschoolers to practice early. Taking care of their teeth is one way that preschoolers can learn about the concepts of prevention and positive healthy habits. They already understand about taking care of, protecting, and saving something.
Objective: After this classroom activity, children will understand the value of brushing their teeth.
- Large picture of a tooth, open mouth, or models of teeth.
Note: You can find free posters about brushing your teeth online. For example: “Tooth Brushing” is available from Global Healthy Child Care. Or ask your dentist or hygienist to either come to class or let you borrow their models of teeth for demonstration.
- One toothbrush for each child.
- Dental floss (for a teacher demonstration only).
- The Tooth Book, by Dr. Seuss. (Ask the school media specialist for other books about teeth. See the “Suggested Books” below for some possibilities.)
- Large poster of the lyrics to “Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth.” (See below.)
Check with the school nurse, your dentist, or the county health department to find ways to get free toothbrushes and other dental health supplies for school groups.
- Gather students in a circle and ask, “What do you do to stay healthy?” (Answers will vary and may include wash my hands, eat vegetables, don’t eat too much candy, or brush my teeth.)Then ask, “What might happen if you didn’t do these things?” (Again, answers will vary and may include get sick, catch a cold, or my teeth might fall out.)
- Now ask, “What do you do with your teeth?” (Answers will vary and may include bite, chew my food, chew gum, or smile.)Read Dr. Seuss’ The Tooth Book to the class so they can find out the amazing things that teeth can do. Then ask students, “What do you think would happen if you didn’t have teeth? What couldn’t you do?”
- Have the children raise their hands if they brush their teeth. When do they brush their teeth? (Answers will vary and may include at bedtime, when I get up in the morning, after breakfast, or every time I eat candy.) Why do they brush their teeth? (Answers will vary and may include to get the food out, so my teeth will be white, or so I won’t have to have dentures like my grandpa.) Do the children floss? Explain to the students that, if left too long on their teeth, old food forms plaque, which will cause cavities.
- Use the poster or model teeth to demonstrate correct teeth brushing. Then show the class how to floss.
DEMONSTRATION: Brush in a circular motion, beginning at the gum line. Brush each tooth, top and bottom; brush inside the teeth and then outside.
- Lead the children in singing “Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth.” (Sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”) Then, as children sing, ask several volunteers to demonstrate good teeth brushing.
Brush, brush, brush your teeth.
At least two times a day.
Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning,
Fighting tooth decay.
Floss, floss, floss your teeth.
Every single day.
Gently, gently, gently, gently,
Whisking plaque away.
Rinse, rinse, rinse your teeth.
Every single day.
Swishing, swishing, swishing, swishing,
Fighting tooth decay.
For older students: Practice the song and teeth-brushing demonstration in order to teach other classes. Take a picture of the whole class with open-mouthed smiles to use as a poster to announce your demonstration.
- Ehrlich, Fred. (2011). Does a Lion Brush? Brooklyn, NY: Blue Apple Books. This book can help your child understand the need to use a tooth brush.
- Ehrlich, Fred. (2011). Does a Tiger Open Wide? Brooklyn, NY: Blue Apple Books. This book can help reassure your child about a dentist’s checkup.
- Padron, Alicia. (2010). Brush, Brush, Brush! Danbury, CT: Scholastic Library Publishing. This board book is designed for 3-year-olds.
- Suess, Dr. (2003). The Tooth Book. New York: Random House Children’s Books. Dr. Seuss’ funny take on all the things teeth can do.
- Vrombaut, An. (2003). Clarabella’s Teeth. New York: Clarion Books. Poor Clarabelle must spend all day brushing her giant mouth of crocodile teeth.
American Dental Association
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families
The information at the website of “February is National Children's Dental Health Month” gives educators resources and tools to promote healthy oral health.
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