Montessori at Home: Dental Hygiene
“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.”
(Maria Montessori, The Child in the Family)
Practical Life Activities are a key component of a Montessori education. These activities draw on a child’s natural requirement to perform everyday tasks and purposefully develops motor skills, concentration and a sense of responsibility while they learn to perform the activities. Care of self covers one of the main areas of development, other activities within this include getting dressed, washing oneself, cooking and much more. This Montessori at Home activity takes you and your child into the bathroom, and helps you to prepare them for a lifetime of taking care of their teeth.
Dental hygiene is essential for children to understand, particularly as poor dental hygiene can affect their learning, for example when they have toothache and infections. Dentists emphasize that the earlier we begin forming good dental hygiene habits among the children, the better. It is also a good way to enhance children’s independence and self-care.
For these reasons, it is important for parents to promote good dental hygiene habits with their children and avoid painful cavities.
In the classroom, we use several different methods to introduce such an activity to a student. These range from the practical – learning to perform the actual task, to fun – games, songs and storytelling. Our teachers have adapted this approach into suggestions that you can use at home.
Here are the tips for how we can guide our children to cavity-free teeth while enjoying good dental hygiene at home.
Help Young Children Practice Brushing & Make It A Good Experience
We want our children to develop and maintain a routine, this starts with brushing their teeth in the morning and night. You may like to join them and model brushing techniques by brushing your teeth right along with your child.
– Choosing a toothbrush & toothpaste:
Encourage your child to choose their own toothbrush from the store. Your child might prefer to have a variety of different tubes and flavours of toothpaste which they can choose to use for day and night.
– Independent brushing:
- Use a visual 2-minute sand timer and practice tooth brushing for two minutes
- Provide a low mirror so that your child can see their teeth easily
- Include safe and stable steps up to the basin so that your child can easily reach the taps to turn the water on and off independently. Another option for parents is to creat a child-size sink for the child to use
Taking your child to the dentist
– Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear. This helps the child to become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. A dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage. Opening the child’s mouth for the dentist to take a look is useful practice, and will come in handy for future preventative care.
– When you visit the dentist, be positive and make the trip fun. This will help to stop your child from worrying about future visits.
– Visiting a dentist allows the child to become familiar with dental procedures and tools, as well as identifying the dentist as a community helper.
Keeping your child’s teeth healthy
Children with pain in their mouth or who have missing teeth may have difficulty chewing, which could affect a healthy diet.
– A poor diet will affect their ability to learn and to concentrate in school. Encourage your child to eat healthy and non-sugary food and drinks. We recommend allowing them to choose the fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks that they like to eat. You should also include them in preparing their own snack.
– Children can use a model set of teeth, a toothbrush and a poster to practice proper brushing of teeth. This activity is fun and at the same time ensuring that the child covers all the teeth and all sides of the teeth.
– Engage your child with some books which talk about going to the dentist, how can dentists help, the way of brushing teeth, and why do baby teeth fall out. Additionally, there are interesting songs which your child can sing as they brush their teeth to add more fun!
One of the primary aims of the Practical Life exercises is to help children become more independent as they acquire the ability to take care of their own bodies.
These are essential health and social skills that they will require as they grow and develop. It is also a joy to watch them feel that sense of accomplishment as they master a task and start to take care of things for themselves.
Try this activity out at home and let us know how it goes!