The importance of teeth is not something lost on little kids. Even preschool youngsters are mature enough to understand that without teeth they won’t be chomping on apples and corn on the cob. Because healthy teeth are so vital, oral hygiene is a key concept for little ones to learn. Give 3-year-olds a primer on oral hygiene to instill a lifelong habit of good dental care while kids are still young.
Start by giving your 3-year-old a big grin to illicit a return smile. With everyone showing their pearly whites, talk about how important teeth are for eating, talking and appearance. Wonder aloud for a moment what it would be like without teeth – talk about the yummy foods that people couldn’t eat if they didn’t have teeth.
Talk about taking a bath, washing hands and washing your face. Compare brushing teeth to these washing activities to illustrate how cleaning teeth is just as important as washing other parts of the body.
Discuss how germs can hide in the mouth and on teeth and what could happen if you don’t brush away the germs. Tell kids that if they don’t brush away germs from their teeth at least twice a day, that the germs could start making holes in teeth and making the mouth unhealthy. Mention dental floss, too, as another special tool that can help keep teeth clean.
Introduce the concept of a special helper – a dentist – who helps people keep their teeth clean and healthy. Tell kids that a dentist is a special doctor who knows exactly how to keep teeth healthy. Talk about going to the dentist, riding in a cool chair, opening the mouth super-wide and spitting into a special sink to get kids excited about visiting the dentist. Add a comment about how nice and friendly dentists are, too.
Encourage 3-year-olds to keep their teeth clean and healthy by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, avoiding sticky, sugary snacks and by being good brushers at least two times every day.
Keep the entire concept of oral hygiene positive and upbeat. At this age, kids should approach teeth and dentists positively to instill a lifelong prioritization of dental care.