Motivate your middle schoolers to take responsibility for their oral health with the following activities.
Create a Menu
Have students prepare a week-long menu based on recommended servings from each of the five food groups.
Give students a list of common snacks that contain sugar and ask them to find substitute snacks that do not contain sugar.
Ask students to plan a class party centered on dishes from the five food groups that do not contain sugar.
History of Fluoride
Students can research and report on the history of water fluoridation in Michigan. You may not realize that community water fluoridation began in Grand Rapids in 1945.
Students can relate personal experiences concerning oral injuries and describe the situation that caused them and how they were treated. Students can also list examples of activities that caused dental injuries.
School Sport Safety
Students can survey each sport played within their school and report on methods used to prevent oral injuries.
Students can research and report on the services provided by general dentists and specialists.
Have students keep a journal of everything they eat for one week, including snacks, meals and portion sizes. Students can then analyze each day’s intake for nutrition in terms of the five food groups. Ask students to note the number of sugar-rich snacks they eat and comment on ways to correct deficiencies and substitutes for sugary snacks.
School Food Evaluation
Assign groups of students to list the available food choices of the school cafeteria for one week. Have them also note other sources of food on school property (vending machines, special sales, etc.). How do available choices contribute to a balanced diet? Are non-sugary snacks available? Should the school be encouraged to eliminate sugar snack items? Can vending machines stock foods other than those containing added sugar? Conduct a class discussion.
Divide the class into two groups. Have one group study the incidence of dental disease in other countries. Ask the other group to study the dietary habits of people in those same countries. Compare the relationship of diet to dental health.
Smoking and Smokeless Tobacco
Have students prepare a display on the harmful effects of smoking and smokeless tobacco. Have them collect pamphlets and posters from various health organizations, books from the library, etc. Encourage students to obtain specific information on oral cancer. Explore where students may place the display so that many students will see it and receive the important message.
Count the Dentists
Assign the class to determine the number of dentists in the community. How many are general practitioners? Specialists?