To reinforce prevention oriented dental health concepts and practices at home and at school throughout the school year and after children leave Head Start.

Materials Needed:
Cassette tape
Cassette recorder
Index cards
Activity Pages, "Dental Memory Game
Parent Letter, "Reinforcement Activities for Dental Health"

Background Information for the Teacher:
After the children have completed the unit on dental health, the information should be reinforced throughout the year. This helps keep the children's interest in the subject alive and encourages them to develop the daily habits needed for good dental health.

Many teachable moments exist within the Head Start program to incorporate dental health concepts. A teachable moment is any unplanned opportunity to develop or reinforce a learning concept.

For example, during the daily meal or at snack time you may discuss dentally healthful snacks as well as the texture, color, and taste of various foods. This provides an easy way to remind the children of what they have learned regarding dental health. Children can be given dental puzzles, games, songs, and other similar activities. Local libraries may have attractive books on teeth. Local museums may have dental or health displays the children will find interesting. Members of the dental community are often willing to visit your classroom to talk to the children about dental subjects.

Classroom Activities
1. Place a mirror at the children's eye level so that they can inspect their smile on a daily basis.

2. Make a cassette recording of the children singing the songs that they have learned about dental health. Play the recording throughout the year on a portable cassette player as the children brush their teeth.

3. As the children are brushing each day, be sure to remind them of all the areas of the mouth that should be cleaned. Say such things-as, "Be sure to clean all the outside surfaces of the teeth, all the inside surfaces of the teeth, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth, both top and bottom. Try to use the following phrases with the children to reinforce their brushing habits and to develop positive self concepts:

"You're doing a good job." "Your teeth look sparkling." "What a nice smile you have." "You're a very good brusher." "I like looking at your clean smile." "You should be proud of what a good job you've done cleaning your teeth." Etc.

4. During meal and snack time discuss the kinds of foods that are being eaten, what color the foods are, what texture the foods are, the flavor of the foods, and the shape of various foods. Ask the children to describe good food/snack choices for good dental health

5. During lessons about animals, take time to discuss the shapes of the animal's teeth and how the animal uses its teeth.

6. Provide copies of magazines for children to look through. Encourage them to cut out pictures of attractive smiles, and make collages showing all the pictures they have selected.

7. Keep a classroom brushing chart '(and, where applicable, a fluoride chart), and have the children put a star by their name every day after they have cleaned their teeth and/or used fluoride (where applicable).

8. Card game -- Using the pictures that are shown on Activity Pages, "Dental Memory Game," cut out and paste the individual pictures on index cards.

Instruct a small group of children to play a memory game by placing all the cards face down on a table. Each child, in turn, turns over one card and then attempts to locate the matching card. If two cards match, the child keeps the set and gets another turn. The child with the most matching sets at the end of the game is the winner.

Note: It is important to work with the children individually to determine how many sets they can successfully play with. Some children may be able to remember only three or four sets of cards. It is better to have only a few sets in order for the children to experience success.

Before the children play this game, be sure to identify the objects illustrated on the cards so you can be certain the
children are familiar with the items

9. On a field trip to the local library, make arrangements for the librarian to read a story to the children that has to do with teeth or dental health.

10. Check with the museums in your area to see if they have a special dental health exhibit. Make arrangements to visit that specific exhibit during a field trip to the museum.

11. If there is a health center in your community, check to see if its staff provide special dental programs for preschool children. If so, make arrangements for your children to participate.

12. Contact the members of the auxiliary the dental society, dental hygienists, or dental assistants to find out if they have special-programs that they will conduct for young children. Representatives from these groups may be found by contacting the local dental society and asking them for the name and number of a person you can call.

13. Contact the public health department in your area to find out if it has special programs about dental health that its staff will present to preschool children. The public health department number may be found in the telephone directory under the city, state, or county health department listing.

14. If there are colleges or universities in your area, contact the health education department or, if available, the dental school and ask about setting up a program on dental health for your students. Students of health education, dentistry, dental hygiene and dental assisting may be willing to assist you with some part of your dental program or be a special guest speaker in your classroom.

15. During National Children's Dental Health Month (February), invite a member of the dental community to visit the classroom. For assistance in finding someone to visit your classroom call the dentist on the Head Start Health Advisory Committee, or call the local dental association or society. The number may be found in the telephone book.

16. During the month of February, incorporate a National Children's Dental Health Month activity with a Valentine party. For a Valentine's Day activity, have children draw smiling faces on heart-shaped paper. The drawings may be displayed on a bulletin board or exchanged among the students as their Valentines to one another.

17. Serve dentally healthful snacks for cultural and ethnic holiday observances throughout the year.

Lesson Review,
Puppet Story

Hi, boys and girls. Didn't we have fun together learning about our teeth? I hope you will always take good care of your teeth to keep them healthy and strong. What are some of the things we should do to take good care of our teeth? Very good! We should brush them every day. We should use a fluoride toothpaste. We should eat good foods. We should be careful not to hurt our teeth when we play. And we should visit our dental helper friends for checkups. Well, it's time for me to go. But before I leave, let's sing one of our little songs together. It's called "Smiles We See."

   Parent Letter: "Reinforcement for Dental Health"

Dear Head Start Parent:

Your child's Head Start class has been learning about dental health. Throughout the year, we will continue to remind the children of what they have learned about their teeth and mouth so that they will continue to care about their dental health.

Please be sure to remind your child at home of the importance of the following rules for good dental health:

1. Brush the teeth thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste every day.

2. Eat a balanced diet and don't eat too many snacks.

3. Visit the dentist as often as he or she suggests.

Although your child is too young to floss his or her teeth, you will want to check with your dentist or hygienist to learn the best way you can floss his or her teeth. Also be sure to ask about the use of fluoride to make your child's teeth more resistant to decay and about sealants to prevent decay in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

Remember, your child imitates the things you do. By taking care of your teeth and gums, you are setting a good example for your child to follow. Dental disease can be prevented. Most children start out with strong, healthy teeth--help make sure that your child's teeth stay that way.


Link to pertinent resource materials

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