Your child's dentist relies on you to help teach your child about the importance of proper dental care. Unfortunately, this isn't always as easy as it might seem. For many kids, seeing first-hand how certain substances can affect their teeth is the most effective way to help them understand. You can do this with a few creative experiments that let your kids get hands-on to see how it all works. Here are some tips to give your child a first-hand look at the damage that some things can do to their teeth.
How Acids Affect Teeth
If you are trying to teach your child about making healthy food choices such as avoiding soda and limiting acidic foods, you can do it without actually causing damage to anything. All you need is a bottle of distilled white vinegar and a few chicken bones.
Pour a small bottle or a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar into a clear glass container that has a fairly wide top. Put two clean chicken bones into the vinegar. After sitting for a day or two, your child will be able to see the erosion beginning on the bone due to the acidity of the vinegar. This is a clear representation of what happens to tooth enamel when it is persistently exposed to acidic foods. Make sure to point out that the bones and teeth are made of similar substances. Then talk about the foods that contain acids and why it is so important to brush their teeth after eating these foods.
What Fluoride Does for Teeth
Kids often receive a fluoride treatment at their first full dental cleaning and exam. If you want your child to understand the purpose of this treatment and what fluoride does for their teeth, you can conduct an experiment that will show him or her how it works. All you need to do is call your child's dentist and ask for a bottle of fluoride rinse. Most will gladly accommodate the request, especially if you explain why you're asking.
Pour the fluoride rinse into a clear glass cup that's deep enough to hold an egg. Submerge the raw egg into the fluoride rinse. After about five or ten minutes, remove the egg, drain the fluoride rinse and put the egg back into the empty cup. Then, fill the cup with distilled white vinegar until the egg is completely covered. Do the same with a second glass, only this time, put an egg in it that hasn't been soaked in the fluoride rinse.
Have your child check the condition of the eggs over the next couple of days. He or she should notice that the untreated egg will deteriorate much faster in the acidic solution. This helps your child see that fluoride creates a protective barrier that helps teeth resist damage from sugar and acidic foods.
How Sugar Can Be Found in Unlikely Places
Chances are pretty good that your child knows about how sugar affects teeth. After all, that's one of the most common messages that kids hear growing up. What many kids don't understand is how many unexpected foods have sugar in them. One of the best ways to illustrate this is by investing in Benedict's reagent. You can find it in most any chemistry supply or science store.
Benedict's reagent reacts to sugar when it's heated. If your child is struggling with the idea that there is sugar in something, you can use this product to illustrate it. Put a small piece of the food in question in a test tube. Put enough Benedict's reagent into the tube to cover the food completely. Heat the tube over a burner. When it is exposed to sugar, the natural blue shade of the reagent turns anywhere from green to red, depending on the amount of sugar in the food.
Most kids enjoy active learning, and any time you can clearly illustrate the reasons for specific recommendations, it can help them understand the benefits. If you're looking to help your child develop a lifetime of good dental care habits, this is the best way to start. Reach out to a dentist ( like those from the Art of Dentistry Institute) for other suggestions as well.