Going to the dentist can be scary, but these 6 games help put your kids’ minds at ease with educational play.
Your child’s first dental visit can be intimidating, but the more he knows about what to expect, the better he will feel about the dentist. Parents and nannies can help make that first visit easier by introducing the dentist office through at-home games. These dentist games for kids were designed to educate and entertain — learning about good oral health is fun when parents are involved!
In tandem with games, there are a few other things at home to help kids prepare for a trip to the dentist. “Parents can count their children’s teeth at home to build comfort with the idea of an oral examination,” says pediatric dentist Dr. Grace Yum of Yummy Dental and Orthodontics.
“Parents can also use a battery-operated toothbrush to get their children comfortable with the sensation of being treated.” In addition, talk about how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy. When discussing cavities, don’t let kids feel bad for getting one. “From an early age, do not say ‘If you don’t brush you will get a cavity and then you will need a shot,'” says Dr. Jill Lasky, a pediatric dentist and owner of Lasky Pediatric Dental.
“Sometimes the best brushers get cavities, and then it makes the dentist’s job a lot harder. Instead, it is recommended to stay positive and say, ‘We need to brush every day to keep our teeth as healthy as can be.”
Here are six games to try at home:
- Workday Dentist App
Supplies: Downloaded app to your phone or tablet.
This interactive game puts your kid in the dentist’s shoes. The player performs cleanings, fixes cavities and puts on braces. Your child can also learn all about the tools that the dentist uses and how they are used during the dental exam. This app provides a good foundation of information for what will happen at the dentist so kids know what to expect, and it’s one of many great dentist games for kids online.
- Tic-Tac-Tooth Word Game
Supplies: Either purchase the game from Practicon or make a version of your own at home with construction paper, markers, scissors, glue and colored markers.
Tic-tac-toe is a game that most kids are already familiar with, and tic-tac-tooth applies the same principles. One person picks Xs and the other picks Os. Take turns to be the first person to get three of your kind in a row. Healthy dental tips are on each game piece of the board, teaching young players about healthy oral habits along the way.
- Sad Tooth, Happy Tooth
Supplies: Construction paper, markers, glue, scissors, magazines.
Cut out two large teeth from construction paper for this game from A Teaching Mommy. Add a smiley face to one and a frowning face to the other. Let your kids look through magazines and cut out pictures of food. Divide the pictures of food into groups that make your teeth happy and sad. For instance, bad teeth occur from eating too much sugar so add pictures of cake, candy or donuts to the sad tooth. Good teeth come from eating healthy vegetables and foods, so load up the happy tooth with pictures of carrots or apples. The first person to fill up their tooth with cut-out images wins.
- Dental Bingo
Supplies: Dental bingo card templates and printable space markers.
This game from Delta Dental is the same as regular bingo, except with dental themed spaces. You call out the bingo spaces and your kids mark their cards until someone gets a bingo.
- Brush, Floss Repeat
Supplies: Large Lego building block, play dough or clay, yarn.
Use toys you already have at home to play this fun flossing game from The Moffatt Girls. Use a large Lego building block. The pegs are meant to represent the teeth. Use play dough in between the “teeth” to represent germs and stuck on food. Use your yarn to floss out the junk from between the teeth. Sit two children next to each other to perform the task, and the first person to finish cleaning their teeth wins.
- True or False Dental Quiz
Supplies: Construction paper, scissors, tape, index cards, markers.
Use your dental smarts to play an oral health-inspired game of true or false from Mrs. Terhune’s First Grade Site. Cut out two large tooth brushes from construction paper and mark one “true” and the other “false.” Make statements like, “You should brush your teeth twice a day,” then ask your kids if it is true or false. After the children have answered, reveal the answer and put the index card on the right tooth brush. The child with the most right answers wins. Try giving out a prize to the winner, such as a new tooth brush, pack of floss or stickers.
Want more unique game ideas? Try these 8 Great Farm Games for Kids.
Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based parenting writer. She is the mother of two boys — one just getting his teeth and the other losing them! Read more of her work on Red Tricycle and more. Follow her @cmf2009.