A child who learns great dental health habits becomes an adult with great dental health habits. To this end, the American Dental Association sponsors “National Children’s Dental Health Month” every February, in hopes of raising awareness among children (and their parents) about the importance of maintaining good oral health.
But how can a family incorporate National Children’s Dental Health Month into their daily lives this February? Sometimes the best way to capture a child’s imagination is within the pages of a good book! Below you will find a few children’s book recommendations that you can read with your little one to help him or her to develop better oral health habits while celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month.
“A Visit to the Dentist” by Eleanor Fremonth — If you’re not familiar with a character named Little Bill, your child can probably inform you. “Little Bill” is an American children’s television show, produced for Nick Jr., that is based on a book series about a kindergartener in Philadelphia. “A Visit to the Dentist” is an excellent tool for any child who will be seeing the dentist for the first time. This book is noteworthy because many children’s books relating to dentistry are solely about losing the primary teeth (baby teeth). But in this story, Little Bill has some anxiety about his first dental visit, which he discusses with his family the night before his appointment. The next day he encounters a young girl in the waiting room of his dentist’s office who is very fearful, so Little Bill comforts her by pretending to be a dentist and uses the girl’s teddy bear as a patient. “A Visit to the Dentist” is effective in its ability to help the child know what to expect during his or her first dental appointment.
“How Many Teeth?” by Paul Showers — Even books about teeth can reach a sort of classic status, if they stand the test of time, and this is one such book: First published in 1962 — and revised in 1991 — “How Many Teeth?” is a rhyming, counting, educational book that teaches kids why babies don’t need teeth, the purpose and function of teeth, how many teeth children need and why they fall out, and of course, the reason it’s crucial to care for your teeth. It also has illustrations that depict what a tooth looks like inside and a chart that illustrates the inside of the gums, where the adult teeth push out the primary teeth.
“Brush Your Teeth Please” by Leslie McGuire — There’s something almost magical about the way animals can hold a child’s attention. In Leslie McGuire’s instructive pop-up book, small children can learn about proper dental hygiene from a lion, a chimpanzee and a hippopotamus that are all good teeth-brushers and a shark who’s a daily flosser.
“Open Wide: Tooth School Inside” by Laurie Keller — If you’re a fan of the humorous book “The Scrambled States of America,” you’ll be happy to know that its author, Laurie Keller, also wrote “Open Wide: Tooth School Inside.” This book targets young readers between 5 and 8 years old, and it teaches about the physical composition of teeth, the function of primary teeth, causes of tooth decay, the importance of dental hygiene and trivia. Who knows? This book may help spawn a future generation of dentists!
“Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions From Around the World” by Selby Beeler — Children are fascinated (and often amused) to learn that some people do things differently. This whimsical book is a great opportunity to raise an awareness of varying cultures, while also addressing our favorite topic: teeth. Beautifully illustrated by G. Brian Karas, this book takes your child around the world to discover some surprising things that children do when they lose a tooth. The author spent years gathering these interesting tooth traditions, assembling them from across the globe and delivering them into your home with this enjoyable book. Remember that not all dental books need to be technically instructive, per se; sometimes they need only to segue into having conversations with your children about their pearly whites.
As parents we try to ensure that our children are healthy and happy and grow into healthy and happy adults. Celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month with your little ones by sharing a good book that will teach them the importance of great oral hygiene.