10 Books to Teach Your Children About Oral Health
Learning Through Connection and Fun
People love stories. Although we can’t know for sure, it’s thought that stories have existed practically as long as oral language has—perhaps longer, if you count stories told without language, through mediums like cave paintings. Stories entertain us, but they also teach us about the world around us, about each other, and even about ourselves. This is why stories make such great tools for teaching your kids about the world around them on topics as wide-ranging as nature, history, and oral health. It’s not always easy for kids to understand oral health or grasp its importance, so teaching them these concepts through stories makes the connection much more natural.
Stories teach your child what to expect from oral hygiene and dental appointments, but they do so in a fun way, by providing characters or situations for them to relate to. Finding a book your child loves can even build genuine enthusiasm for oral hygiene, making it easier for you to encourage daily habits that will keep them healthier now and well into the future. If you’re not sure where to get started, however, don’t worry—we have you covered! Here are 10 dental books for children you can use to teach your kids about oral health.
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss has a host of classic children’s books, many of which we enjoyed when we were little, too! The Tooth Book is a great introduction to teeth and oral health for young children because it’s simple and fun. Its rhyming scheme and fun illustrations keep kids entertained, but it’s also sneakily informative, teaching your little ones basic information like who has teeth, how many teeth we have, how many sets we get, what tasks they help us carry out every day, and how to take care of them.
Brush, Brush, Brush! by Alicia Padron
This little book is great for kids of all ages, especially if you’re just starting to teach your little one how to brush their teeth or need to find inspiration to make it more fun for them! The book teaches kids how to brush their teeth using a cute, simple rhyme full of alliteration, making it sound fun and stick with them later. Even better, the book suggests that you sing the rhyme to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” This adds an extra element of fun, but it’s also a clever way to help your kids memorize the instructions in the tune.
Sugarbug Doug: All About Cavities, Plaque, and Teeth by Dr. Ben Magleby
Explaining the importance of oral health to young kids is important, but it’s not always easy. Sugarbug Doug does a great job of personifying bacteria to explain cavities, how they form, what foods cause them, and how to get rid of bacteria and prevent cavities. It’s a great medium to explain why oral hygiene is so important. The simple way this book approaches the topic makes it easier for your kids to understand, but it still has a ton of very useful information that will help you and your kids watch out for their oral health!
My First Visit to the Dentist by Eve Marleau
My First Visit to the Dentist is an informative but light-hearted book that teaches your kids how to brush their teeth, what causes cavities, and what they can expect during dental appointments. It does this by following the main character, Arun, through the day of his first visit to the dentist. Arun is relatable for many kids, but he shows that the dentist doesn’t have to be scary—it can even be fun! The book also has a glossary in the back to define new or difficult words, helping your child understand the story better and increasing their vocabulary.
The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears is another classic series of children’s books that many adults grew up with, and this particular book makes a great addition to your reading list for kids. In it, Sister wakes up with a loose baby tooth, so she goes along to Brother’s dental appointment to have the dentist look at it. There’s a good balance of story and information in the book, with plenty of relatable moments from Sister and Brother. This book acknowledges that going to the dentist for the first time can be scary, but it also aims to set your child at ease by showing what a dental appointment is like, demonstrating how cavities are filled, and explaining the different tools that dentists use. There’s even a visit from the tooth fairy at the end! Taking your kids’ fears seriously and dispelling them by helping them understand what their appointment will be like will help them feel better about their first visit to our dental office in Vancouver, WA.
Melvin the Magnificent Molar by Julia Cook and Laura Jana, MD
This adorable book teaches kids about teeth and the importance of oral health from the perspective of one of their teeth: Melvin the Magnificent Molar. By meeting kids at their level and engaging their imagination, the information in the book becomes a lot more interesting and fun. Plus, thinking about oral health and hygiene from the perspective of their teeth can go a long way towards encouraging your little ones to want to brush their teeth.
Why Should I Brush My Teeth? by Katie Daynes
Children ask a lot of questions, and answering those questions—especially in simple ways they can understand—isn’t always easy. This book answers all your little one’s questions in a colorful, simple way and uses moving flaps to keep your kids engaged while you read together. Its explanations are simple and fun, so it can go a long way towards helping your child understand why brushing their teeth is so important.
We’re Going to the Dentist: Going for a Check-Up by Marion Cocklico
If you’re looking for more engaging dental books for children to teach your toddler about going to the dentist, We’re Going to the Dentist is a great option! Its sweet storyline aims to encourage your little ones and frame their upcoming appointment in a positive light, all while engaging them using fun flaps they can lift and mechanisms for them to move. There’s even a little something for adults on each page: practical tips that you can use to care for your little one.
Your Child’s Teeth by Evelina Weidman Sterling and Angie Best-Boss
Teaching your child about their oral health and hygiene requires you to be informed, too, so it’s wise to add a book or two to your own reading list! Your Child’s Teeth is a great place for parents and caregivers to start. It has a ton of information about the daily care your child’s teeth need as they grow and develop, with sections on the basics of oral hygiene, taking them to the dentist, and affording care. It also goes more in-depth by describing the changes your child’s teeth go through as they grow and providing information on topics like gum disease, tooth sensitivity, and orthodontics. Its range of topics and depth of information make this book a great reference on general pediatric dental care to keep with you as your child grows.
Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America by Mary Otto
For educators, public health advocates, and even curious parents, this book is a fascinating, in-depth look at the past and present link between oral health and socioeconomic status in America. It points out problems that existed in the past, many of which have continued into the present, regarding the availability and quality of basic oral care available to low-income individuals—as well as the issues like food pricing that lead to increased dental issues in these groups to begin with. The author, Mary Otto, frames all of this as a massive public health crisis, explaining that these issues don’t begin and end in the mouth—they lead to increased risks of potentially dangerous health issues such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and more. While it’s a topic many Americans aren’t aware of, it’s certainly one that’s worth knowing about, making this a worthwhile read for any adult. It’s especially important for educators and public health advocates, however, because these issues directly impact kids. Knowing this can help frame the way you approach teaching children about oral health, areas you focus on, and what kinds of suggestions you make for oral care at home.
Whether you’re teaching your children about oral hygiene or preparing them for a visit to their kids’ dentist, books are a great teaching tool. They’re fun and engage your child, often so well that they don’t even realize they’re learning. Plus, reading these books is a great chance to fit in some quality time with your little one! Taking the time to build these habits now will benefit your child for a lifetime and provide the framework for a positive experience with Dr. Mo at our office. To get started putting what your child is learning into practice by visiting the dentist, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mo at any time!