If your children are hesitant about dental care, share some of these dental facts with them. Help them learn something new about their teeth, demystify oral hygiene, and have a better time at the dentist’s office. Who knows, maybe it will spark their interest in all things dental!
Fun dental facts for kids
Is your child curious about their teeth but not sure about the point of dental care? As a parent, you know how much you care about your child–educating them on caring for themselves can go a long way in their personal development. Review these teeth facts with them, and maybe even learn something yourself.
Bacteria and plaque
Your child may say, “Ew!” to bacteria and plaque, and that is a great start. They should be conscientious of how bacteria and plaque can build up on their teeth and gums if they don’t brush or floss often enough.
Explain to your child the basics of plaque:
- Plaque builds up on your teeth after you eat food.
- Plaque is sticky, and 300 kinds of bacteria can produce and grow within plaque.
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes to eliminate plaque.
While sugar makes food taste great, it can cause serious tooth decay. Bacteria, or sometimes called “sugar bugs,” love sugar just as much as we do! These bugs feed on sugar and produce plaque and acid, which jeopardizes the integrity of tooth enamel.
- There are typically 10-12 teaspoons of sugar in just one can of soda.
- On average, 78% of Americans develop a cavity by age 17.
- Between 60-90% of children will experience tooth decay.
- While tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, bacteria can damage it.
Visiting the dentist can also prevent gum disease
Regular visits to the dentist can help you learn how to take care of your teeth and fight the sugar bugs that can lead to tooth decay. Gum disease is also no laughing matter:
- Other bacteria can cause inflammation in your gums as well as the bone around your teeth, this is called periodontal disease.
- Periodontal disease can get so bad that it makes your teeth fall out!
- Your dentist is a tooth doctor who can help you prevent gum disease.
- Your dentist will give you tips for improving and maintaining your oral health.
Tips for taking care of your teeth
Your dentist will help you decide the best ways to take care of your teeth. Your dentist can do many things at his or her office, such as cleaning plaque and taking X-rays to make sure your mouth is healthy. Other things you can do at home include:
- Using your toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste for at least 30 seconds on each side of your mouth. That’s two minutes for your whole mouth!
- Improving your nutrition, which is the science of what we eat to fuel our bodies.
- Making sure there isn’t too much sugar in your nutrition, which can speed up tooth decay.
Questions about teeth
If your child is still curious about dentistry and has more questions, here are some answers. Preparing your child for their visit to the dentist can make it far less scary and much more fun.
Can a dentist damage your teeth?
- Good dentistry won’t damage your teeth. The American Dental Association has rules and standards for dentistry that help protect your teeth. They even recommend when you should first visit the dentist. Even though your mouth might feel a little funny while you’re at the dentist’s, remember they’re helping you fight the sugar bugs.
Where does bad breath come from?
- Old bits of food and bacteria on your tongue, gums, or in between your teeth are responsible for the way your breath smells. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day helps remove bad breath. Did you know that if you don’t floss you miss 40% (that’s almost half) of your tooth surfaces!
Do we need teeth to talk?
- We need teeth to help us make certain sounds. For example, we couldn’t make the “th”, “t”, “s”, “v”, “f,” “x” or “z” sounds without our teeth helping us! Give it a try. Can you say “the” or “that” without putting your tongue between or right behind your teeth? Can you say “voom” or “zoom” without letting your lips touch your teeth? How about “fox”? We don’t just need teeth to eat; we need teeth to talk, too.
How often do dentists see bad teeth?
- If dentists are working in an area where schools don’t have the money to afford good health education programs, or where parents are worn out from their jobs at the end of each day and fall asleep before brushing their teeth, it may be more likely for dentists to see bad teeth.
Interesting facts about dentists and dentistry
The history of modern dentistry is fascinating and can help your child feel less afraid because they’ll know some important and interesting facts. Encourage your child to ask their dentist about some of these tidbits, as it can strike up a conversation and make your child feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
The first toothbrush was made out of sticks?
That’s right! The first toothbrush was made out of twigs with frayed ends to scrape across the teeth and get rid of food particles. Modern toothbrushes have soft bristles, so we are very lucky compared with our ancestors!
Where does the tooth fairy myth come from?
The tooth fairy myth stems from ancient and medieval northern European traditions. Vikings are said to have paid children for teeth, wearing teeth into battle as charms for good luck and a good battle.
On the other hand, in medieval England, most children’s teeth were burned as a way to stop them from enduring hardship later in life. In other traditions, children’s teeth were burned or buried to prevent witches from using discarded teeth to control the children.
Today, it’s said that if you leave your lost tooth underneath your pillow, a tooth fairy will come and take it, leaving you money the next morning. Did you know that in 1950 the average amount left by the tooth fairy was 25 cents, but the going rate today is $2.00?
The first President had fake teeth?
While most modern presidents have their own teeth, past presidents had to make due with teeth made from unusual materials. George Washington wore fake teeth made from elephant ivory, hippopotamus tusk, gold, and even other human teeth!
Some people even say that President Washington had teeth made of wood, but this seems to be a misunderstanding. Luckily, modern dentistry can fix missing teeth and discolored teeth without the need for using other people’s teeth.
Bamboo is a great biodegradable material!
Many children are very aware of the impact that plastics can have on the environment and animals in the sea. Modern bamboo toothbrushes are naturally antibacterial, and they will decompose after you’re done using them! This means they won’t leave harmful, non-degradable plastic behind and they won’t pollute our oceans.
Share these facts about teeth for kids with your children to help alleviate any fears and get them curious about visiting the dentist’s office. Let them know that the dentist can help keep them smiling–not only will the dentist help keep their teeth healthy and strong, but they might learn a lot of interesting and fun facts along the way.