Every time I clean a child’s teeth, I hand them a mirror and ask them to show me where their gums are bleeding. I want to know that they know how to recognize gum disease. I remove a little bit of plaque from the teeth and explain, “This is what’s making your gums sick and that’s why they bleed”. Simply put: “Bleeding gums is your body’s way of letting you know something’s not right”. Kids get this!
An eight year old boy told me that the last time he had a sleep over with friends; while brushing their teeth, they showed each other how much their gums bleed. “None of us know why that happens”, he said. What a pleasure it was to educate him in “simple” terminology. After the explanation, he looked at me and said, “Wow…. that is so cool…. Now I can tell them why our gums bleed”.
Taking the time to present “gum disease”, using analogies that he could easily relate to and visualise, sparked understanding and interest, motivating him to explain the same story to his younger sister.
The same approach can be used to talk about cavities, bad breath or bone loss. Take a few moments to understand the physiological process, replace technical terms with “simple” terms, give it your own twist and have fun with it! The goal is to help kids increase their awareness about their own health. The motivator is the story telling and kids love stories!