Teeth are an important part of everyone's body, but they are often neglected when it comes to school lessons and textbooks. Children need to learn about teeth because the health of teeth can affect the health of their entire body. There are many projects that can be done in the classroom or assigned as homework that will enhance understanding of dental health and hygiene.
Pre-K and Kindergarten
Gather a large number of used magazines from home or ask the children to bring them from home. Give them each scissors, two pieces of paper and paste or glue. Ask them to cut out foods and put foods that are good for teeth on one paper and junk foods on the other piece of paper. Hang the children's collages up and compare and see who got the most right. This can be done in class or assigned as homework as well.
You can show how normal-looking teeth are actually full of hidden plaque. Though a special dental light could do this, that would be expensive. Instead, have students take a picture of their own or a family member's teeth. Ask them to swish a mixture of a few tablespoons of water and a few drops of red food coloring around in their mouths. Then, take another picture and compare the results. The water and dye mixture will reveal hidden plaque, which can cause gingivitis, gum disease and tooth loss.
Dentists can use sealant on a tooth to prevent future decay. Students can learn how this works with a fun project in which an antacid tablet stands in for a tooth. You need two antacid tablets, two paper cups, vinegar and a small piece of cling wrap (just enough to cover one of the tablets). Pour a small amount of vinegar in each of the two cups. Wrap one of the antacid tablets in the cling wrap and leave the other one uncovered. Put one in each of the cups. The one in wrap will not dissolve, while the uncovered tablets will completely dissolve. This shows how sealants can protect teeth.
At this level, you don't have to necessarily spell out a project for students. Instead, challenge them to come up with their own solution to a problem you present. One idea is to ask them to make a natural teeth whitener out of items around the house or ones that can easily be bought in a drugstore. Good examples are hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Challenge them to do research and conduct tests, which will force them to read up on dental health while solving a problem with their project.
- teeth image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com