Get your students excited about dental health now, and you’ll be setting them on the road for a lifetime of healthy smiles. Give them one of the following activities to do for a lesson that’s so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re learning.
Ask a dentist and veterinarian to show the class human and animal teeth. Compare the teeth of animals and man. Note similarities and differences such as size, shape and function. A trip to a zoo or museum is a good opportunity to compare and contrast the teeth of mammals.
Demonstrate tooth decay by placing a hard-boiled egg in a cup containing white vinegar, a cola drink or apple juice. In minutes, the shell of the egg, like tooth enamel, will begin to dissolve from the acid of the vinegar.
Bruise an apple and let it set overnight. Cut through the bruise the next day to show that the brown area of the apple is like tooth decay. You can’t always tell from looking at the outside that the tooth or apple is decayed.
Have students brush their teeth, then chew a disclosing tablet. Have them observe their teeth in mirrors to check for the presence of plaque. (Red-stained areas are plaque, which can be removed.) Students should brush their teeth until the plaque (red areas) is removed.
Plan a field trip to a water treatment plant to learn how fluoride is added to the water. Or invite a water plant engineer to the classroom to explain how fluoride is added to the water supply.
Ask students to discuss activities that might damage the teeth, jaw or gums. The students should then recommend changes in each activity to make them safe. Compile a list of safe and unsafe activities. Then cut the list up, separating each activity, placing items in a box or hat, and mix well. Have students draw an activity and state whether it is safe or unsafe.
Ask student volunteers to develop an emergency procedure poster for the classroom.
Ask students to cut photographs of popular television or recording stars from newspapers or magazines. Blacken a tooth or several teeth and discuss the effect that missing teeth have on a person’s appearance.
Have students construct and display a chart showing the major parts of a tooth.
Plan a Party
Have students plan a party at which only non-sugar containing snacks are served. Or have a tasting party. Blindfold students and have them eat small pieces of non-sugary snacks such as oranges, apples, carrots, celery, cheese crackers, etc. Have students guess what the foods are as they sample them.
Have students make a model of the mouth using art supplies and common household items such as navy beans, modeling clay, modeling dough or wallpaper cleaner.
Create a Dental Office
Give students pictures of a dental office and have them create a dental office using chairs, boxes and other common items.
When teaching students about the food groups, create a mock grocery store in a corner of the classroom. Label one shelf for each food group. Have students bring empty food containers and wrappers from home or draw pictures of foods. Students can place their foods on the appropriate shelves. Later, remove the labels from the shelves and mix the food up. Divide the class into groups and have each group go grocery shopping and purchase items for a meal.
To demonstrate the need for flossing, cover your hand with thick tempera paint. Then use a toothbrush to clean off the paint, holding fingers tightly together. The brush will not remove the materials from between the fingers. Then give each child a piece of yarn 18 inches long. Have children get a partner and illustrate flossing. One student holds hands tightly together with fingers straight and held tightly together, while the other student flosses between the fingers.