I Decay (IDK) What to Say: National Children’s Dental Health Month Presentations

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Standing in front of a room full of listeners can be intimidating, even when the listeners are only elementary-age schoolchildren. When thinking of a school oral health presentation for National Children’s Dental Health Month, it can be overwhelming to decide what to say or topics to cover. Thankfully, there are many resources available for dental hygienists to gather ideas. (Thank you, Pinterest!)

During my first time presenting to a group of children, I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. I searched the internet for kid-friendly ideas and tips to guarantee my presentation would go smoothly and be effective in conveying the information I was trying to teach. From all of this searching, I found several tips that have helped me feel confident about my presentations.

Here are my favorite tips and tricks for preparing for your school dental presentation.

1) Keep to a Script

Put that public speaking prerequisite to use! As trivial as it may sound, sitting down and deciding what topics you want to discuss will help with gathering resources and adjusting to requirements about the length of the meeting.

Having a written presentation plan will also keep you focused and alleviate anxiety when it comes time to present.

2) Cover the Basics

It can be easy to skip over your basic oral hygiene in exchange for more complex and exciting topics. But it is important to ensure the presentation covers our bread and butter − brushing and cleaning interdentally. Many children have never been fully taught these key instructions.

3) Kid-tailored Topics

For me, it was easiest to pick five key kid-related dental topics and ensure I covered them all throughout the presentation. My five topics of choice are brushing, flossing, what causes and what is a cavity, fluoride prevents cavities, and sealants prevent cavities.

These topics allowed me to cover the basics of children’s home oral hygiene and cavity prevention methods. It also addressed the caries process for children who might not know what a cavity is.

4) Gather your Supplies

Kids love visuals! Having visuals for each topic can ensure your presentation is engaging and remembered. Thanks to the plethora of resources for inspiration online, there are many illustrations that cost little to nothing. Some of these include two-liter bottle teeth, eggs in soda, and, my personal favorite, acetone on Styrofoam cup “teeth” to illustrate decay. You don’t have to go crazy on the craft aisle to have visual aids for your presentation. Something as simple as showing kids how your loupes work provides entertainment for the children.

Left: Photo showing two eggs placed in soda overnight. The egg on the left was covered in fluoride prior to placing in soda. The egg on the right was not. Right: Styrofoam and 2 Liter Bottle teeth. Both photos courtesy of Chloe’ Gill.

5) Practice, Practice, Practice

While we all know we can show brushing and flossing techniques in our sleep, practicing verbiage will help to calm any nerves. Practice any visuals ahead of time to be sure everything works properly during presentation time.

6) Take Homes

Although absolutely not necessary, having handouts are a great way to reinforce what you went over and make the kids smile. There are tons of options out there, ranging from passing out brushes and floss to cheaper alternatives such as stickers, bracelets, or necklaces.

One resource I love to take advantage of is the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The site offers sealant brochures and infant oral care brochures free of charge. These are a great reinforcement to send home for parents to read what was taught in your presentation.

The American Dental Association also offers many activity sheets that make great additions to a presentation.

Preparing for a National Children’s Dental Health Month presentation ensures everything runs smoothly the day of. I have found that by keeping to a script, covering the basics, discussing kid-tailored topics, gathering supplies, practicing, and having take-homes for my audience, I can be sure my presentation is successful. These six tips and tricks for school presentations can help guarantee that you are not left feeling like you don’t know what to say.

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:


  1. National Institute of Health Free Brochures. Retrieved from https://catalog.nidcr.nih.gov/OrderPublications/#2
  2. February Is National Children’s Dental Health Month. American Dental Association. Retrieved from www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month