To identify ways to prevent accidents that might injure the mouth.

Materials Needed:
Activity Pages, "Safety Do's and Don'ts"
Happy Face stick puppets (see Lesson, "Tooth brushing")
Emergency Procedures Chart
Parent Letter, "Keeping Teeth Safe"
Attachment to Parent Letter, "Dental Emergency First Aid"

Background Information for the Teacher:
Accidents in which children injure their teeth or mouth are quite common. To prevent them, children must learn how to identify safety hazards and must learn how to play safely. All of the following are common causes of oral injuries:

-tricycle and bicycle accidents;

-falling over objects on the floor or sidewalk;

- pushing and shoving around water fountains;

- playing carelessly around swings, teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, and other playground equipment;

- chewing on ice, pencils, or other hard objects; improperly using toothpicks;

- not wearing a seat belt while riding in a car, van, or bus;

- not wearing a mouth protector while playing in sports activities (this applies mainly to older children).

The Dental Emergency Chart on the following page should be posted in your classroom. You may also want to make a copy to send home with the parent letter for this lesson.

In a dental emergency, Head Start staff members should be prepared to administer first aid as well as seek help when necessary. Be sure to have emergency telephone numbers near each phone. When an accident occurs, your first concern should be the injured child. Keep in mind, however, that the other children may be emotionally upset, curious, or concerned. Use the time following the accident to reassure the children, and allow them to share their feelings regarding the accident. Try to use this as a learning opportunity in order to prevent further accidents.


In the event of an accident to the tongue, lips, cheeks, or teeth:

Attempt to calm the child.
All incidents should be handled quietly and calmly; a panicked child is likely to create problems for treatment and may cause further trauma.

Check for bleeding. If the child is bleeding:
a. Stop bleeding by applying pressure to the area;
b. Wash the affected area with clean water;
c. Apply ice, wrapped in clean cloth, for swelling.

If tooth is knocked out, fractured, chipped, broken, or loose:
a. Staff should calm the child.
b. If injured area is dirty, clean gently.
c. Place cold compresses on the face, in the injured area, to limit swelling.
d. Immediately take the child to a dentist for treatment.

If teeth are loosened in an accident:
a. Rinse out the child's mouth.
b. Do not attempt to move the teeth or jaw.
c. Take the child to the dentist immediately.

If a tooth is knocked into the gums:
a. Do not attempt to free or pull on the tooth.
b. Rinse out the child's mouth.
c. Take the child to the dentist immediately.

If injury to the tongue, cheeks or lips occurs:
a. Rinse affected area.
b. Apply ice, wrapped in clean cloth, to control swelling.
c. Take the child to the dentist or a physician if bleeding continues or the wound is large.

In the event of any other soft tissue injury, as in the case where the tongue or lips become stuck to an object and the tissue tears:
a. Stop the bleeding.
b. Cover the affected area with sterile petroleum jelly.
c. Take the child to the dentist or to a physician.

Police ________________________

Fire __________________________

Paramedics ____________________

Physician _____________________

Dentist _______________________

Starting the Lesson:
Begin the lesson by asking the children if they have ever hurt their mouth. If so, ask how the accident occurred. Next, ask students if they could have done something so that the accident would not have happened. Ask students if they know of other people who have hurt their mouth. If so, ask them if they know what might have been done so that the accident would not have occurred.

A. Hold up section one of Activity Pages, "Safety Do's and Don'ts." Ask children to look at the picture. Ask them what they see in the picture that might cause an accident or injure the mouth. Then have them explain what has been changed in section two of the picture that shows a good safety practice. Continue this procedure with each picture set of the "Safety Do's and Don'ts" pages.

B. In order to develop an awareness that children should immediately inform an adult of any injury, ask the children the following questions:

* If you were at a swimming pool and you hurt your mouth or teeth, who would you tell? (Elicit responses such as lifeguard, mother, or other adults who might be with the child at the pool or serving as a guard around the pool area.)

* If you were on the playground at school and hurt your mouth, who would you tell? (Elicit responses such as teacher, school nurse, teacher's aide, or older student.)

* If you were walking home from school and you hurt your mouth, who would you tell? (Elicit responses such as a school guard, a police officer, a bus driver, or an older person whom the child knows.)

* If you were at home and in the backyard and you hurt your mouth, who would you tell? (Elicit responses such as baby sitter, mother, grandparents relative, neighbor, or an older brother or sister.)

Classroom Activity:
1. Safety - Cut out each separate picture on the Activity Pages, "Safety Dots and Don'ts." Mount each scene on a piece of tag board.

Distribute the "Happy Face" stick puppets to children. Have them hold up the happy face as you display a card that shows a good safety practice. When you hold up a card showing an unsafe practices children should shake their heads back and forth and say "no." After each card is displayed discuss the safety rule(s) that should be followed to prevent the specific accident.

2. During the Halloween season emphasize safety of the mouth by discussing costume safety, going out with an adult, being able to see through the masks, and being very cautious of foods that are eaten.

Lesson Review,
Puppet Story

Hello, everyone: Today we're going to talk about something very important - keeping your teeth and mouth from getting hurt. Has anyone ever bumped a tooth while playing? Would you like to tell me how it happened? Has anyone else ever bumped a tooth or hurt their mouth? Could you tell me how it happened? We must try very hard to keep our teeth and mouth safe. I don't want any of you special boys and girls to get hurt.

We can do many things to keep our mouth and teeth safe. I always put away my toys when I'm fin shed playing. Do you know why? That's right Then no one can trip over them and bump a tooth. And I never put a toy or anything except food into my mouth. Do you know why? Very good: Hard things, like toys, can hurt our gums or chip our teeth.

Now, let's pretend you're outside. You're playing with some other children when, all of a sudden, you fall down and bump your tooth. Who would you go to for help? (Parent, grandparent, older sister or brother, baby sitter) Very good: It's important to tell someone you know. Well, boys and girls, remember to be careful when you're playing. If you ever get hurt, be sure to tell someone you know right away. Have to go now. Good-bye, kids!

Parent Letter: "Keeping Teeth Safe"

Dear Head Start Parent:

Accidents to the teeth or mouth are common among young children. Today your child learned how to prevent accidents by following good safety habits. For example, if children put their toys away after play, no one can trip and fall on them.

Ask your child to go through your home with you to help you point out possible sources of accidents. Then discuss how these might be eliminated. Set up a list of safety rules you both must follow.

By helping your child think about safety, you can reduce the child's risk of injuring his or her mouth.


Link ro pertinent resource materials

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