Kids, Teeth, and Fun
You’ve got questions too, like how to get your kids excited about teeth. Getting your kids excited about and interested in teeth topics, that may otherwise seem anything but exciting, requires some creativity and excitement on your part. If your kids see you excited and interested, they won’t want to miss out on the fun and will get on board. So how do you do that?
You can help your kids learn through play by making a fun game out of almost anything. In fact, learning through play is important for childhood development. Do you need a little help in discovering fun ways to talk to your kids about teeth, oral hygiene, and visiting the dentist? We’ve got you covered.
Check out this fun online kid dental trivia game. With fun quizzes, activities, movies and interesting articles, it will surely provide some entertainment for you and your children.
If your kids are into crafts and coloring, be sure to check out our coloring sheets here. We do have frequent contests for fun prizes and you can even download and print these at home to color anytime.
Crafts are a great way to encourage development skills in your toddler, and it’s fun for everyone—so older kids will enjoy the fun trivia too! And while you’re on a mission to pique their interest in dentistry, you can share these fun questions—and their answers—about teeth with your kids.
Question 1: Did kids teeth in prehistoric times have cavities?
A: Research says likely not, because grains and sugars weren’t part of their diet.
Question 2: What is the strongest substance in the human body?
A: This may come as a surprise to you that the answer is tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that protects against decay. Using products approved by the American Dental Association is important to make sure your tooth enamel isn’t damaged and stays strong.
Question 3: What did ancient cultures use to clean their teeth?
A: Many cultures would chew on tree bark or sticks to clean their teeth. The History Channel reports that ancient Egyptians made a paste from pulverized eggshells and oxen hooves to clean their teeth. Sound gross? Luckily toothpaste materials (and flavors) have improved. Find out which brands the American Dental Association recommends for your kids’ teeth, and add them to your shopping list.
Question 4: When did brushing teeth become common practice?
A: Not until after World War II. While people have been cleaning their teeth for centuries (see above answer), daily teeth cleaning didn’t become regular practice until later. The first toothbrush was developed for mass production and distribution in 1938, but only after the war did America at large begin adopting the practice of daily toothbrushing. Bonus question: How often should kids brush their teeth? I think you can guess the answer!
Question 5: What protects teeth from cavity-causing bacteria?
A: Tooth enamel for the win again! This hard outer layer of your teeth protects them from decay. Think of enamel like a house that protects you from the elements outside. Plaque build up can wear down your enamel over time, which leads to cavities. This is why it’s so important to maintain good oral health habits like brushing twice daily, flossing daily, eating nutritious food, and avoiding excess sugars. Sugar is a prime culprit in tooth decay.
Question 6: Can teeth repair themselves like bone, muscle, and skin?
A: No kids, the fact is that teeth are incapable of self-repair which is why getting fillings and other dental work is necessary to protect teeth from further damage and to maintain the integrity of the tooth. Cool science fact: Teeth contain stem cells and some researchers are using dental stem cells to regrow human teeth. Maybe one day dentists will be able to regrow your tooth!
Question 7: Are cavities contagious?
A: Yes, sort of. The bacteria that causes cavities—mutans streptococcus—is transmittable from person to person. This means that the spit of someone with this bacteria can pass along a cavity-causing bug to you, which is why Pediatric Dental Specialists encourages parents to avoid transmitting this to their children by following these guidelines.
- Don’t use your mouth to test the temperature of your baby’s bottle
- Don’t use your mouth to clean a pacifier.
- Don’t share utensils or drinkware.
Question 8: Which land mammal has the most teeth?
A: The giant armadillo, which can have up to 100 teeth! They can weigh between 41 and 72 pounds full grown, and the largest giant armadillo ever weighed tipped the scale at 180 pounds! Imagine hitting that armored rodent with your car! It might leave a dent.
Question 9: Which ocean animal has the most teeth?
A: The great white shark has 300 teeth! These giant creatures of the sea certainly have a lot of teeth, but check out the size of the teeth on the prehistoric shark called a Megalodon—EEK! We’re glad we won’t encounter the biggest shark of all time during our next beach vacation.
Question 10: How much saliva does the average person make each day?
A: Between 2 and 4 pints. And about 53 bathtubs full in a lifetime. Saliva contains electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds, and enzymes that help digest food. And mutans streptococcus for those who have cavities!
Dental Trivia Craft
Are you looking for a better way to share all of this fun trivia with the kids? Here’s a cool craft idea that will do the trick.
- Cardstock paper
- Coloring sheets or print outs of teeth, smiles, toothbrushes, and toothpaste etc.
- Glue stick
What to do
- Cut cardstock into four equal parts so you get 4 cards per 8×11 paper.
- Use crayons to color the teeth other images.
- Cut out the shapes.
- Glue shapes to the cards.
- Print out or write the wacky facts on the other side of the card.
- Have fun playing the trivia game!
- Rinse (or brush!) and repeat.
Kids like weird facts. It’s a fact.
Spring Break is approaching and soon school will be out for summer! Any school break means more downtime for kids or family travel. So whether you plan to pack up in the van and go on an adventure vacation style or lounge around at home, your kids will be looking for some extra entertainment. We know you might feel the pressure to create entertaining, educational, and fun experiences for your kids, so let us help you with that! Gather your kids and check out these wild and wacky facts about dentistry. Then talk to your kids about them and see where the conversation, and their imagination, leads you.
Before you begin, here’s a bonus kids fact, just for you: Did you know that after dental school, a pediatric dentist is required to complete two additional years of training specifically on dentistry for infants, children, teens, and kids with special needs? That’s a lot of knowledge and information that your child’s dentist has and employs at every dental visit. It’s what makes Pediatric Dental Specialists special. With our highly trained and friendly team, you know your children are getting the best care here in a fun and supportive environment.
1. Brushing your teeth only cleans about 70% of teeth.
Cavities and gum disease develop when plaque builds up along the gum line. Cleaning between your teeth with dental floss removes plaque from the areas a toothbrush can’t reach. The American Dental Society and Pediatric Dental Specialists recommend flossing once per day as part of a good oral health routine in addition to brushing twice daily and regular dental cleanings. Imagine if you cleaned 70% of your dinner dishes, or 70% of your clothes, or 70% of your dirty dog—dirt and grime would build up quickly! So while you may not be able to see the dirt on your teeth as well as you can the dirt on your dog, it’s still there, so clean it regularly and thoroughly!
2. Tooth decay is the second most common disease in the United States after the common cold.
Tooth decay, or cavities, is the result of a breakdown of tooth enamel caused by plaque buildup. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cavities are the most common chronic disease of children aged 6 to 11 years old, even though it’s largely preventable. Pediatric Dental Specialists is passionate about teaching good prevention techniques and oral health habits so parents can help their kids have a lifetime of healthy smiles.
3. Chewing gum was first introduced to America by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
(I told you these facts would impress your kids!) Antonia Lopez de Santa Anna was the president of Mexico who fought Davy Crockett and his Texas comrades in the battle of the Alamo. His version of chewing gum was chicle, the latex sap from the sapodilla tree. The American Dental Association reports that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after meals can help prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum shouldn’t replace brushing and flossing, but it is helpful in conjunction with a good oral health routine. So find your favorite flavor of sugarless gum and chew on! What’s your favorite flavor? We think tree sap should be a flavor to honor the original chewing gum. Would you chew that?
4. Queen Elizabeth I brushed her teeth with sugar.
Sugar causes cavities is common knowledge now. But it wasn’t always so. In fact, sugar used to be a food that only the wealthy could afford to consume. Reportedly, Queen Elizabeth I consumed an excessive amount of sugar regularly, and she even brushed her teeth with sugar paste or honey. This is what caused her terrible tooth decay.
5. Lucy Hobbs was the first woman in the world to earn a doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.).
She earned her degree in 1866 from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio. My how the world has changed since then!
6. The most popular toothbrush color is blue.
Hey kids, it’s a fact! But are you among those with a blue toothbrush? Take a look around and see if this little fact is true in your household. What color is your toothbrush and why did you pick it? What color was your last toothbrush? What about the others in your home? Does anyone have a blue toothbrush?
7. Toothpaste used to only come in one flavor, mint.
But now there are many varieties of flavors. Although, we’re not sure we want to try any of these wacky flavors like bacon, curry or octopus, switching things up to cinnamon is a nice option.
8. Every tooth in your mouth is unique.
It’s true, each tooth is like a fingerprint in that is has its own unique size and shape and pattern. Teeth vary widely from person to person. This is why people can be identified by their dental impression.
9. Irene Newman was the first person to become a trained dental hygienist in 1905.
Like nursing, dental hygienist roles have historically been filled by more women than men. Kids, check out some other cool facts and a timeline of dental hygiene here.
10. In 5000 BC, a Sumerian text describes “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay.
Now we know it’s not tooth worms but food and bacteria that is a cause of cavities. Check out these other ancient facts about dentistry.
Dentistry sure has come a long way since ancient practices! Can you imagine if we hadn’t discovered that sugar causes cavities or that flossing your teeth is a smart oral health habit? While kids may not think much about teeth other than they know they’re supposed to brush them, it’s interesting to learn about the wild and wacky historical facts of dentistry. And hey, maybe it’ll get your kids more interested in brushing or maybe they’ll become the next dental professional to join our wonderful team!
These Low-Sugar Snacks Can Satisfy Serious Cravings
Kids enjoy sweets, but their teeth (and their dentists) don’t! Here are some delicious low-sugar recipes they’ll love to make and eat!
Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can sometimes be a challenge. This is especially true if your child prefers sweets and snacks like candy and chips over broccoli and carrots. Of course, a sweet treat here and there is nothing to be ashamed about, especially if you take good care of your teeth every day!
Unfortunately, eating super-sugary foods too often can undoubtedly mean trouble for your teeth. Kids often don’t realize this, and will often reach for the sugary cereals or sodas during snack time. To help your family avoid an impromptu trip to the dentist, however, you can try substituting sugary not-so-good-for-you treats with these fun recipes your kids will love. Not only will they enjoy eating them, but most of the instructions are simple enough that kids can help prepare them!
#1. Hidden Veggie Pizza
This is a fan favorite among kids and adults alike, and it’s packed with veggies your kids won’t even know they’re eating! Start with a pizza dough you like, and some low-sodium and low-sugar tomato sauce, and then add in some spinach or similar veggies to give them that added health benefit!
What You’ll Need:
1 cup of canned tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 – 2 bunches of spinach leaves
Pizza dough (for individual pizzas, use smaller bases)
1 – 2 cups of shredded cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Create the sauce by combining the canned tomatoes, garlic, pizza seasoning, salt and pepper (not too much!) and spinach leaves in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Using the back of a spoon, spread the sauce evenly across the pizza dough base. Top with shredded cheese.
Bake the pizza according to the directions for the dough or base. Top with fresh herbs like parsley, if you like, and then cut into strips or pizza slices and serve!
#2. Peanut Butter Apple “Bagels”
Peanut butter and apples are a great combination, and apples are especially great for your teeth! They act as a natural toothbrush of sorts, which helps remove plaque from your enamel. There are many recipes that make apples appealing. But we think this fun way of presenting a classic favorite offers a new twist your kids won’t be able to resist. Top with granola or berries for added flavor!
What You’ll Need:
1 – 2 Granny Smith apples with the peel intact (each one serves about 2)
¼ – ½ cup of peanut butter
Remove the core from your apples and then cut them into ¼” rings. This should provide around 8 slices.
Spread the peanut butter evenly across each slice and then finish with your favorite toppings. Serve immediately, so the apples retain their crispness!
#3. Healthy Pull-Apart Bread (AKA Monkey Bread)
Another delicious treat the whole family can enjoy is monkey bread! Unfortunately, traditional recipes are chockfull of teeth-harming sugars. Instead, try making this healthy alternative with your kids. For extra sweetness, you can prepare a glaze topping—but feel free to skip this if you want to avoid the extra sugar and fat.
What You’ll Need:
1 ½ cups of self-raising wholemeal (or almond) flour
1 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (for added sweetness, you can add a small dash of honey)
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 – 2 tsp cinnamon
First, combine the yogurt and flour until a soft and elastic dough forms. Next, knead the dough for approximately five minutes. Use a sprinkle of all-purpose flour for this part.
In a blender, combine the bananas, cinnamon, and dates. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, similar to that of a sheet of standard paper.
Spread the peanut butter mixture evenly across the dough, leaving about 2 inches of space around the edge furthest from you. Repeat with the banana mixture.
Roll the dough up pinwheel style (think cinnamon rolls), and slice into ½ inch slices.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and then arrange the rolls so that they are touching, but not overcrowded. The idea is that when they bake, they will be stuck together but easy to tear away.
Bake the pull-apart bread at 360˚ F for about 15-20 minutes.
For the glaze, you can combine about two teaspoons of melted butter with one tablespoon of brown sugar and coat the monkey bread about 5 minutes before it’s ready to be pulled out of the over.
#4. Cucumber Hummus Cups (With Pretzel Sticks!)
Of course, incorporating some of your kid’s favorite bites in your recipes can help sell new, healthy snacks. These yummy hummus cups have a bonus crunch factor thanks to a handful of pretzel sticks!
What You’ll Need:
1 – 2 cucumbers
First, peel and chop your cucumber into 1-inch slices. Then, using a melon baller, scoop out the center of the cucumber. Be sure to leave some to act as the bottom of the “cup.”
Fill the center of the cups with about a teaspoon of hummus (feel free to use more or less to suit your preferences). Finally, top with 1 – 2 pretzel sticks and serve immediately.
Healthy Snacks Mean Happy Smiles
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore. You can make it fun and enjoyable as long as you dedicate time to finding creative ways to present them to your kids (and picky adults!). We think these recipes will be a hit for all.
At Pediatric Dental Specialist of Greater Nebraska, we strive to offer comprehensive dental services to our patients in any way we can—including healthy snack recommendations! Our team works closely with each patient to provide personalized treatments and comfortable care.
We offer a range of dental health services, including preventative treatment options to help ensure your kids have healthy teeth for years to come! Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations.
Parenting Wins with Good Choices
As a parent, you want to make sure you create an environment for your child to grow and flourish. A lot of consideration and love is put into your crafting their upbringing so they can have a good experience and avoid problems down the road. Up high on the list for parents is making sure your child’s teeth are cared for and develop correctly. You know that a healthy mouth and straight teeth will mean an easier life for your kids, and you’re willing to do whatever is required to get there.
At Pediatric Dental Specialists, we understand that parenting is far from easy. Sometimes, you just have to make difficult decisions for your child and hope for the best. We’d like to help simplify at least one aspect of your parenting decisions. So we’ve compiled a few of our recommendations to make sure your child’s teeth develop correctly.
Keep Teeth Healthy
Healthy teeth are the most important piece of having a healthy smile for life. These are our top tips to help your kid’s teeth stay healthy as they develop.
- Bring your baby to see one of our pediatric dentists by the time they turn 1, or they get their first tooth, whichever is first.
- Keep your baby’s gums clean by rubbing them with a wet cloth after eating or drinking.
- Don’t leave a bottle in your baby’s crib.
- Start brushing your kid’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts.
- Start a healthy oral health routine.
- Give your child healthy food options and limit bad ones.
- Bring your child to the pediatric dentist for regular check-ups.
- Help them learn about good oral health through reading.
Corrective Behavior Intervention
Genetics do play a role in the health and structure of your teeth and mouth. However, there are things that you can do to help your child’s smile develop to its maximum potential, naturally. Corrective behavior intervention can make things easier for you and your child as their teeth develop.
Pacifier use is a much-debated topic in the parenting world. Your decision to use a pacifier or not can be impacted by the nature of your baby and their preferences. Some babies need to soothe themselves through sucking more while others seem to be fine without it. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that pacifier use can be implemented when done appropriately. Whatever you choose, you’re making the right choice for your baby and family. Just like anything, there are pros and cons to pacifier use. As your child gets older, the cons outweigh the pros so it will be time to begin thinking about how to say Bye Bye Binky.
Babies have a strong rooting and sucking reflex, and as we already discussed, some babies and toddlers need to suck for comfort more than others. If this sounds like your baby, they may grow to develop a thumb-sucking habit, especially if you’ve already said Bye Bye Binky. Since children use sucking to soothe, you can identify your child’s stress triggers and help them overcome and calm down without thumb sucking.
Intervention, positive reinforcement, and rewards can help break the habit.
Pacifier use or thumbsucking past the age of 2 can result in protruding front teeth and cause other teeth to come in crooked. If you want to help your child develop nice straight teeth and reduce the need for orthodontics like braces later on, then correct these behaviors as quickly as possible.
It’s important to consider the reasons why teeth come in crooked to fully understand the cause and be better educated when talking about options with your dentist or orthodontist.
Crooked Teeth Problems
- Overcrowding—If your child has a small jaw there may not be enough room for adult teeth to come in resulting in shifting of teeth to accommodate the new adult teeth.
- Poor hygiene from overcrowding—Overcrowding can make it difficult to maintain a healthy mouth since it’s hard to properly clean all teeth.
- Jaw and teeth misalignment—Your child may have a crossbite or overbite which causes teeth to come in crooked.
- Airway restriction—Your child may have a restricted ability to properly breathe through their nose. Continuous mouth breathing is caused by a too narrow or too deep upper jaw.
- Crooked teeth can cause kids to feel self-conscious during already angsty adolescence which results in less laughing, talking or engaging.
Have you ever wondered why a child who still has his or her baby teeth would get braces? Orthodontic appliances can widen the jaw so the teeth have enough room to fit comfortably and straight within the mouth. Your child can start orthodontics at age 6 or 7 using appliances like palatal expanders to help make room and shape the jaw. It’s easier to reshape the mouth at this age which helps to create the space needed for more adult teeth as they erupt. Children who need full braces once all adult teeth have come in at about age 12 find they spend less time in braces if they had orthodontic prep work done.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7. Your orthodontist will assess the development of your child’s growing teeth and jaw to determine if any early intervention is needed. When you choose Pediatric Dental Specialists as your pediatric dental home, your child has all the space they need to grow here. We can care for all of their dental and orthodontic needs from their first baby visit to the time they graduate. Parents choose us because we make life easy—you know you’re getting the best care for your child and all of their needs can be accommodated here.
If you have questions about your child’s developing smile or if it’s time to schedule their first visit, contact us today!
- How Your Child Can Benefit From A Pediatric Dentist
- 10 Books to Read To Your Child About Going to the Dentist
- 7 Fun Tips To Make Your Child Love Brushing Their Teeth
Every Tooth Counts
Did you know that your child’s first teeth are vital to their health beyond their youth?
It’s true. Baby teeth, medically known as primary teeth, may be temporary—but there’s nothing temporary about the impact they have on your child’s lifelong oral health.
As you know, baby teeth help your child to chew and therefore have proper nutrition. They’re also critical for speech development and save space for permanent teeth to come through properly when your child is older. But beware, decay on primary teeth can affect the adult teeth below.
Having a healthy smile also creates confidence, even at a young age. And starting off with a healthy smile encourages your child to continue to maintain their good oral health habits into adolescence and adulthood.
Now is the time to set up great oral health habits that become second-nature to your child for the rest of their life. Here’s what you can do as a parent to create a positive first dentist experience.
When it comes to pediatric dentistry, we have what we call a “rule of ones.” Essentially, as soon as your child has developed their first tooth or has turned one year of age, you should schedule their first dental appointment. This recommendation is the most recent update to the guidelines from both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). It’s important to start early not just so that your child is comfortable with the dental cleaning routine, but also so we can closely monitor the health of your child’s teeth and bite as they develop.
What to Expect
Before talking to your child, know what to expect as the parent. When you bring in your child, the dentist will check the health of their teeth, gums, and bite. Occasionally, a child may require a dental cleaning on their first visit. However, this first visit is essentially a meet-and-greet of sorts. We’ll go over good hygiene habits for your child’s developing teeth and answer any questions you may have.
In the weeks leading up to their first appointment, be open with your child about what they can expect from their time in the chair. It’s important to be honest but not to go into too much detail. Explain that the dentist will be looking in their mouth to count their teeth and check for “sugar bugs.”
The best way to do this in an educational and playful way is to act out the scenario with one another. Play dentist on them a few times and ask if they would like to play dentist on you as well.
Educate with Books
Reading is a great educational tool for children. Highly visual learners, the illustrations help them to understand the world we live in.
Here’s a short list of age-appropriate books you may want to read to your child in the weeks leading up to their first appointment. These are also great to read before all future appointments as well.
- What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist (What to Expect Kids) by Heidi Murkoff
- Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit To The Dentist (Dora the Explorer) by Christine Ricci
- The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
Curb Your Own Fears
If you are one of the many adults who have fear or anxiety about going to the dentist, it is important to be mindful of the way you talk about the dentist around your child. Avoid talking about pain, needles, and drills when discussing their visit.
They won’t be encountering these things during their visit. The first appointment is simply to get your child acclimated to a dental routine. We want to ensure the teeth they have are in good health and discuss good oral hygiene as more of their teeth start to develop.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Use positive reinforcement to foster enthusiasm for your child’s visits to the dentist. Don’t depend on the sticker and toothbrush from the office as their reward. Use encouragement throughout the visit and be supportive during the checkup process. Congratulate them on their good behavior. You may even want to plan a surprise reward for your child such as a trip to the park.
A First of Many
The first dental visit is about creating a comfortable experience for your child early on and getting them acclimated to the regular routine of having their teeth examined by the dentist. This first appointment is to help your child become familiar with our team in the office. It’s important to build this rapport to develop a trusting relationship for years to come.
Be sure to take your child’s routine into consideration when scheduling their appointment. Avoid nap time and instead choose the time of day when your child is typically at their happiest.
Give us a call to schedule your child’s appointment. We will be happy to put you on the schedule, and we look forward to giving your child a fun, relaxed, and enjoyable first dental experience.