Gaming and interactive technology for kids' oral health
SUMMARY: Get interactive to teach children about important oral health practices from a young age.
Posted: April 10, 2013
Many adults and children across the country don't have adequate access to dental services, which can often lead to an increase in the likelihood of oral hygiene issues. Most dental and oral ailments, like bad breath, tooth decay and dry mouth, are extremely preventable with the right education. Oral health education is lacking in schools across the nation - so many children and parents are left in the dust along with pricey dental procedures. To keep your family informed about the importance of dental care, you can bring a variety of oral health education tools into your home.
Minnesota-based dental professional Keith Ostrosky developed a new mobile app aimed to help children learn how to properly care for their teeth and gums. This innovative and interactive tool engages children between the ages of four and 11 to learn about proper oral health for kids. The free app called, "Chomper Chums," teaches children how to properly care for their teeth through the use of three animated characters.
In one activity, children follow sugar bugs through the nooks and crannies of the mouth. The characters work as a guide to communicate with children about how long to brush each quadrant of the mouth, so they learn to brush for a proper amount of time and hit all the important areas in the mouth.
"Good oral hygiene starts when a child is young. By teaching them from an early age about the importance of caring for their teeth and gums, kids become more invested in their oral care," Ostrosky said. "When a child learns about how to clean their teeth properly, they turn into an adult who is focused on regular brushing and flossing."
The game works so that children have to take care of their animals by keeping up with their own dental health. The animals also teach them about healthy eating choices and what bad food does to their body. Children get rewarded for brushing and flossing regularly with coins that are used to buy food for the animals.
Bring education home
Teaching kids about oral health with games and fun activities is beneficial for many reasons. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, one out of 10 adults did not go to the dentist for an oral health issue because of fear. As a child, sitting in the dentist's chair can be a scary thing, but maintaining conversations about cleaning, cavity treatments and how to keep a pretty smile will ease the fear factor of regular visits for a lifetime. Parents can search the internet for interactive animations and stories, or create a game at home to make dental hygiene a normal topic so children are not afraid of going to the dentist.
Parents should create a routine that helps children to remember when to brush and for how long. For example, think of a song that is two minutes long, or cut a song down to two minutes, and have a stereo in the bathroom so children can listen to it while brushing. This will help them learn how long they should be brushing to get rid of bad breath and reduce dental plaque.
It can also be helpful to create a chart for the bathroom. After your child brushes, they can receive a star or smiley face sticker on the chart. If they have filled out the chart by the end of the month, think about creating rewards: Allow them to have a sleepover in the living room, pick a family movie or game or pick a place to go out to dinner.