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Hands-On Learning Lab for kids

What is the Learning Lab? Our Hands-On Learning Lab is a place where children can come to learn about their teeth, total body health, nutrition and dentistry in a fun, age-appropriate manner. There will be discussion, instruction and hands-on activities provided. Exploring dentistry and oral health in this manner allows children to develop beliefs, skills and behaviors that support lifetime of dental health.

What to expect… (12 and under)

Phase 1: Self-Prophy — Children under the age of 12 will begin their dental appointment by going to the learning lab with one of our friendly dental assistants. In the learning lab, a "self prophy" will be performed, which means the dental assistant will disclose any plaque on the child's teeth and then discusses the results with the child as they look together in a magnifying mirror. Then the child will then demonstrate how they would clean their teeth using tools that they have chosen from our selection. These tools include a manual toothbrush, power tooth brush, dental floss, floss pics, etc. Throughout this portion of the visit, there will be interactive conversation between the dental assistant and the child.

Phase 2: Activity — The second part of the appointment is a science activity related to tooth care, mouth care, whole body health and nutrition, or a dental science activity. These activities may include talking about food choices, looking at food labels and discussing the ingredients of different types of foods, discussing hydration options when playing sports, and even allowing children to use a digital intraoral camera to take photographs of their own mouths.

Phase 3: Exam & Cleaning — The last step in the child’s dental appointment is the exam and cleaning. The child will be seated in the dental chair where the doctor will examine the teeth and remove any remaining plaque or tarter present.

What to expect… (13 and older)

Phase 1: Self-Prophy — Children over the age of 13 will also begin their dental appointment with an interactive discussion with one of our friendly hygienists in either the learning lab or hygiene operatory. Any questions or concerns about oral health and prevent care will be address during this discussion.

Phase 2: Activity — Next, the teenagers will be able to participate in an age-appropriate activity that will allow them to learn more about their mouths and how to best maintain lasting oral health.

Phase 3: Exam & Cleaning — The last step will also involve an exam and cleaning. Our hygienists will remove any remaining plaque or tarter present following which the doctor will come in to examine the teeth.

What is unique about the Learning Lab?

I believe that hands-on integrative learning about health is the right thing to do for our kids.

In today’s world kids are growing up with technology in their hands, and because of this, what may have worked to educate past generations may not work very well for kids now. We believe brains are not wired well for the traditional "teach and tell" model used in dentistry and therefore, hands-on learning for kids is our future. Our hands-on learning approach is to mentor each child one-on-one, allowing us to learn where he or she is developmentally and take one step forward in their journey toward better health.

It is difficult for children to learn by lecture. Most children learn best when they think about, try out and experience things! The facilitation model shifts the focus from what we know to what the child knows and is curious about. It is about assisting self-discovery through experiential learning about the child's personal health. We are creating learning experiences that “stick.” With children we have the greatest opportunity to participate in creating a lifetime of good dental health. We hope to shape their attitudes and beliefs not only about dental health but also health in general. We have created a safe environment for children to develop their curiosity and enjoy learning where they can have interactions about health that are positive and affirming rather than critical and punitive. We want to help children take responsibility for their own health and be able to ask their parents for support. We have found that working with children and their parents in this way, the adults also learn to care for their own mouths in the process.

Here are a few of the activities in our Hands on Learning lab:

  • Tooth Friendly vs Non-Tooth Friendly Snacks
  • Food Target Review/Discussion of Personal Choices
  • Soda Soak with Spin Brush vs. Manual Brush
  • Child Demonstration of Skills on Model Teeth
  • Peanut Butter Glove with Spin Brush and Floss
  • One Finger Rule - Reading Food Packing and Labels
  • Quantity of Sugar in Favorite Breakfast Cereal
  • DIAGNOdent and Occlusal Cavity Detection
  • Quantity of Sugar in Favorite Drink
  • Eat This Not That (Books)


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