As kids go back to school this fall, parents may be wringing their hands about what the little darlings will learn in reading, writing, and advanced calculus. And useful as it may be to know the capital of Botswana or the formula for hydrochloric acid, parents ought to give some attention to what their children learn about oral hygiene and oral health.
Somewhere along the line, kids may have a unit or two on proper oral hygiene in a health or science class. But since oral disease, including gum disease and dental cavities, continues to increase at an alarming rate, parents and schools are advised to make sure children have proper instruction about how to care for their teeth.
Fortunately, there is a vast wealth of teaching resources available. Dentists have printed brochures or other materials available, and many dentists, dental hygienists or other experts may be engaged to speak to classes or groups. Local dental societies may provide a speakers bureau or other teaching options.
Concerned parents or teachers need go no further than a good search on the internet. A recent search on “oral health education” turned up several pages of links to great websites. Here are just a few.
This Dental Health Education Resource Guide comes from the California Dental Association’s Council on Community Health in Sacramento, California. It includes curriculum outlines, fact sheets, plus some fun games to print and copy
Healthy Teeth is a production of the Nova Scotia Dental Association with the assistance of the Canadian Dental Association and the Halifax County Dental Society. The website offers several topics, kid-oriented explanations and cute graphics. It features some cool experiments that kids can do at home or at school.
This website has a compilation of oral health resources readily available online. It is published by the University of Florida College of Dentistry.
This educational curriculum is published by the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. With a theme of “ToothFairy Island, ” there are plenty of resources right on the website, plus other materials that can be purchased.
On top of this, other dental associations, public health organizations, and, of course, dental products manufacturers also provide interesting teaching materials for all age levels.
The ABCs of oral health
What should kids be taught? Here’s a list for starters: How to brush correctly. How to use dental floss. How often to brush and floss. What to expect at a dental check-up and why it’s important to see the dentist regularly. The importance of proper nutrition. The danger of too much sugar, especially candies or beverages that linger in the mouth. The danger of tobacco for teeth and gums. The use of mouth guards for athletics. The basics of dental caries and other oral diseases.
As with any educational program, kids at different age levels will have different interests and abilities. Kids in pre-kindergarten should learn not to swallow toothpaste as they learn to brush daily. High school students need to see what happens to teeth and gums subjected to cigarettes or other tobacco products.
Teaching starts at home
Whatever children are taught in school, it should only be an adjunct to what they learn at home. As with most life lessons, parents are the best teachers. Moms and dads can instruct their children about oral hygiene, but the best teaching is personal modeling. It’s best to start early helping children develop good oral hygiene habits. As they get older, teach them the rationale and reasons they should keep up the habits for life.
Let’s review proper oral hygiene for adults: Limit the amount of sugars in your diet. Minimize sodas and other drinks that are corrosive and lead to cavities. See your dentist twice a year. Brush and floss daily. And don’t forget the AO ProVantage dental gel or AO ProRinse. New products like antioxidant toothpaste are emerging in the dental industry all the time. These great-tasting and refreshing products can make the oral hygiene routine especially pleasant, and the antioxidants contribute to a healthy appearance and bright smile.