In the pre-COVID world, The Tooth Ferry team LOVED visiting local preschools and elementary schools to give presentations about oral hygiene, healthy snack choices and tooth decay. We typically aim to present to children as young as preschool-age, and all the way up to about 3rd grade. Our presentation is broken into components that benefit kids of this age the most:
- Discussion of why it’s important to visit the dentist. We also like to discuss what the kids will see, hear and experience when they have a visit to the dentist. We like to talk about why we wear gloves, a mask and use a bright light and demonstrate to the kids (using a specialized stuffed animal model that has teeth) why it is important to open their mouth wide at the dentist and how a mouth-mirror and tooth-toucher are used to count the teeth. We like to read an age-appropriate book about visiting the dentist during this part of the presentation.
- Education about “sugar bugs” (which is a euphemism we use for the bacteria that live in our saliva that cause tooth decay). We talk about how the sugar bugs eat the foods that we eat, and produce acid, which make holes in our teeth (called cavities).
- Discussion of “tooth-healthy” foods. Because there is so much controversy surrounding what constitutes a “healthy” diet, and children may be influenced by parental beliefs, attitudes and behaviors surrounding dietary choices, we focus ONLY on how foods affect the teeth (in terms of being “cavity-causing” or not). We have a fun, interactive presentation in which one child dresses up in a tooth costume that has velcro dots on it. We hold up a picture of a food and ask if its “tooth-healthy” or not. We allow the kids to make a guess and then attempt to stick the food picture to the tooth costume. “Tooth unhealthy” foods have velcro on them and will stick to the tooth costume, while “tooth healthy” foods do not stick. This demonstrates to children the basic concept that certain foods stick around and feed the sugar bugs, while other foods do not.
- Oral Hygiene instruction. Once the child dressed in the tooth costume has all the “tooth unhealthy” foods stuck to them, we use a giant toothbrush to clean the foods off of them. We then use a piece of rope (representing floss) to demonstrate how to use floss to clean between the teeth. We talk with the kids about the number of times per day to brush and floss, how much toothpaste to use and emphasize that they should always allow an adult to help them so all of their teeth get clean.
After our presentation, we answer any questions the children may have about their teeth or about visiting the dentist.
It is SO FUN to engage with kids outside of the office setting, and to see them get so excited about an oral health presentation. And we hope our presentation helps lay a foundation of understanding that may make visiting the dentist more fun, and less scary.
This blog post includes some photos from our visit to Wind Rose Montessori Preschool in Magnolia, which we were able to visit before COVID hit. For this school visit, we were invited by a parent at the school. If you would be interested in having us visit your child’s school to give a presentation, please don’t hesitate to ask us (most likely after the world starts returning to more a normal routine in 2021)!
Tooth Ferry Preschool Visits