Teaching Kids The ABC’s of Cavities

Ever Wonder Why The Cookie Monster Has No Teeth? Too many cookies.

To a 4-year-old, what’s a cavity except a scary, hard-to-pronounce word that sounds a lot like calorie?

Teaching kids at a young age exactly what a cavity is, what causes them and why it’s important to avoid them teaches them the ABCs of good oral hygiene. And for kids, there’s no more important dental lesson than learning how to take care of their teeth.

So how do we explain the 1-2-3s of good teeth care to a toddler or preschooler without making it sound like rocket science? By explaining in sweet, simple terms that are as easy as 1-2-3.

Too much sugar equals big, big trouble for teeth

Explaining to kids that too much sweets like chocolate, ice cream and candy leads to sugar bugs is easy  logic for kids to understand. Like 1 + 1 = 2, when sugar sticks to teeth, tiny sugar bugs pop up and eat away at their teeth and form cavities. Parents can explain to kids that cavities are holes in their teeth that are both unhealthy and painful. When cavities grow bigger, they can also lead to teeth rotting and falling out.

Another compelling fact parents can remind kids of: The Tooth Fairy doesn’t reward kids for losing teeth because of sugar bugs and cavities. This reasoning is guaranteed to gets kids interested in taking care of their teeth.

Toothbrushes: Light Sabers Fighting The Dark Forces Of Sugar

“But Mommy, cartoons don’t have to brush their teeth.”  Emmi, Age 5

Let’s face it, brushing teeth ranks just ahead of going to bed on Kids’ No-Fun-O-Meter. But parents can make toothbrushing fun by using analogies featuring their kids’ favorite superheroes battling villains to reinforce the magical power of the toothbrush and toothpaste to fight off cavities.

For like Luke Skywalker and Rey use light sabers to repel the Empire, toothbrushes are light sabers that strike down the evils of sugar.

Parents can also use photos or posters (your family’s dentist is a great resource for these) to show their children what their teeth look like up close and point to the places where the dastardly sugar bugs hide. The important lesson for parents to stress to children: Brushing their teeth thoroughly for two minutes twice a day every day is the best way to sweep the sugar bugs and cavities away. Parents should also explain that flossing catches any sugar bugs that may hide in between teeth and puts them in sugar jail.

Sweets From The Dark Side

Hidden in magically delicious kids’ favorites like candy, cookies and soda are those dastardly sugar bugs. Parents can explain that sugars in sweets will invite even more sugar bugs that can hurt their teeth. Just like eating too much pizza gives the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bellyaches, eating too many bad sweets can give kids toothaches. Introducing kids to healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables helps them learn the difference between good and bad snacks and their impact on teeth.

The Dentist: Our Teeth’s Best Friend

Kids may take one look at a dentist’s drill and face mask and think their parents have taken them to see the boogey man, but parents can ease their children’s natural fears of seeing the dentist by reinforcing to them that the dentist is their friend and wants to help keep their teeth healthy and safe from sugar bugs and cavities.

Understanding the science of cavities can be hard for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds to understand, but parents can simplify the ABCs of cavities for kids and get them on the road early to a lifetime of healthy, happy teeth and bright smiles.

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