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DIY Teeth Models and Dentist Sensory Play
Kids can be intimidated by new experiences, and the dentist can be scary for kids who have never visited a dental office – or can’t remember their last visit.
One of my favorite ways to help kids get over their fears and actually look forward to things like dentist visits is to incorporate some of the “scary topic” into our play and teach the kids what to expect.
This easy “tooth scrubbing” set-up with DIY model teeth is great for kids who either love the dentist and can’t get enough, or are a bit intimidated. There are a couple different ways to play, but my favorites are:
- putting play dough “plaque” on the teeth for kids to scrub away with a toothbrush
- or, letting kids experiment with “dental tools” (aka, cheap fondant cake decorating tools) to see how the dentist helps clean up our teeth
Making the teeth is quick and easy – and you can re-use them over and over again!
I suggest making this activity at least a week before your next dentist visit.
To find a local dentist, we used The Smile Generation, a referral service with more than 650 Smile Generation ®-trusted offices across the US. Their approved offices offer services from orthodontics, oral surgery, teeth whitening, and more – including specially trained pediatric dentists with kid-friendly offices.
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This activity was a great way to help her calm her nerves about her dental appointment and it was great for facilitating conversation about what to expect at the dentist and allowed her a forum to safely address her concerns.
By focusing on the fun activity, we were able to explore her curiosity about the upcoming visit without fear getting in the way. It was fun for her to pretend to be the dentist, and it helped make our dentist less of an intimidating figure, and more like a “helper” with a special job to do.
She was so excited to tell the Smile Generation-approved dentist about her own experience “being a dentist” and the activity also made those dental tools seem a little less scary.
To find your own Smile Generation®-trusted dentist, check out their website and be sure to check out what special offers they have on hand. I also love that they partner with charities that we care about – I think it speaks to their commitment to health and healthy lives for all people, showing that they are so much more than a dental directory.
Check out our quick how to make model teeth video (and how Ella played with them) and then don’t forget to scroll down to grab your free printable for how to make and use these plaster teeth:
(Yes, these teeth are not anatomically correct… neither were my Duplo “teeth” that we used to practice flossing, but the kids get the concept and the point of this activity is to encourage thorough brushing and have fun doing it.)
Materials to Make Plaster Teeth
- 2+ pop bottles
- 2 cups plaster mix
- 1 cup water
- Scissors or exacto knife
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon or spatula
- Play dough or other messy material (for “plaque”)
- Cake decorating tools, optional
- Shaving cream, optional
- Baking soda and vinegar, optional
- Face mask, optional
Tip: It takes approximately 1 cup of prepared plaster to make a single plaster tooth, so multiply accordingly. (This recipe prepared 2 teeth for us.)
How to Make Model Teeth
To make the teeth, prepare your plaster according to your package directions.
(Ours was 1 cup plaster to 1/2 cup water.)
Cut the bottoms off of your soda bottles and clean them.
Pour 1 cup of plaster into each pop bottle bottom and allow to set.
Our teeth took about 3-4 hours to fully set.
To set up your dental sensory activity, take some play dough and press into small spots all over the tooth to act as “plaque.”
Set up the tray with “shaving foam” tooth paste, a tooth brush, and fondant decorating tools, if you have some. (These were purchased from a dollar store and we also got some use out of them with our Halloween brain dissection activity – so very multipurpose.)
Allow children to use the toothbrush and different tools to remove the plaque and clean the teeth. They may notice that the dental tools help clean the teeth a bit better, especially in the crevices, than just brushing.
You can also experiment with letting play dough dry on one tooth and applying fresh play dough to the second tooth to see how cleaning “dried plaque” may differ from cleaning teeth right after food/material build-up.
Pin this Easy Tooth Brushing Sensory Play Activity:
Grab your free printable for how to make and play with model teeth:
Making your own DIY model teeth is quick and easy and is the perfect addition to this fun tooth brushing sensory play activity to encourage kids to take care of their teeth – and not fear the dentist!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.