Parts of a Tooth
DISCUSS: Taking care of your teeth includes keeping them clean, protecting them, and eating nutritious foods. Remember these five things to keep your teeth healthy:
- Brush twice a day.
- Floss before bedtime.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Visit the dentist for regular checkups.
- Use a mouthguard when necessary.
- Activity: Your friend Kayla tells you that she does not need to brush and floss because it takes too much time every day. Write a persuasive letter convincing Kayla about the importance of caring for her teeth.
- Activity: Make up a song or poem about taking good care of your teeth. Share it with your classmates and friends.
DISCUSS: Brushing your teeth helps keep teeth and gums healthy.
HOW: Use a child-size soft-bristled toothbrush and a small dab of toothpaste. Try not to swallow the toothpaste. Gently move the toothbrush up and down and in circles. Brush the top teeth down from the gums. Brush the bottom teeth upward from the gums. Brush flat surfaces. Rinse your mouth with water. It should take about two to four minutes to clean all of your teeth front and back.
WHEN: Brush your teeth at least two times a day, especially after breakfast and before you go to bed. If teeth are cleaned every 24 hours, then bacteria will not make enough acid to damage them.
WHY: Tiny bits of food stay in your mouth when you eat. If you don’t brush, bacteria make acids and plaque. Plaque is the clear sticky layer of food and bacteria that forms on and between teeth when they are not cleaned. Bacteria can grow down into your gums and cause bleeding and swelling. It can gradually harden and become tartar, leading to gum disease and cavities. Cleaning teeth with a toothbrush and floss removes plaque and prevents cavities.
- Activity: Keep a daily calendar of your tooth brushing for one week (Student Handout 5).
- Activity: What is the favorite toothpaste of students in your class? Survey all of the students in your class to find out. Make a list of toothpaste brands and gather your data.
- Activity: Collect toothpaste ads from magazines. Analyze and evaluate the ads. How do the ads persuade you to buy that brand of toothpaste? Do the ads have bright colors? Do they have snappy, persuasive words? Are there eye-catching designs?
- Activity: Pretend you have invented a new toothpaste! What will your new toothpaste taste like? What color will it be? What will you name your toothpaste? Draw a toothpaste tube and write your toothpaste’s name on it. Add color, pictures, and designs. Now make a magazine ad for your new toothpaste. Use words and pictures to persuade people to buy your toothpaste.
DISCUSS: Fluoride helps protect your teeth from cavities by making the enamel stronger. Most city water supplies have fluoride added so your teeth will be protected. Most bottled water does not contain fluoride. If your water supply does not contain fluoride or if you drink only bottled water, use fluoride toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash to help prevent cavities.
- Activity: Call your local government offices to find out whether fluoride is added to your water supply. Bring in empty toothpaste boxes and try to find the word fluoride on the list of ingredients.
DISCUSS: Flossing removes food particles and plaque from between teeth and under the gum line where toothbrushes can’t reach. You may need help from an adult to floss your teeth. Move the floss back and forth between teeth.
Fantastic Fact: Brushing removes only two-thirds of the food particles on your teeth. The other third is between your teeth and needs to be removed by flossing.
- Learning Center Activity: Collect several Styrofoam egg cartons. Cut off the flat top, saving the egg holder portion. On each egg holder, make a cut 1/2 inch deep. Explain that the cuts are like the tight spaces between our teeth. Provide 12-inch pieces of dental floss. Have students practice “flossing” the cuts.
DISCUSS: Nutrition and Teeth: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and green vegetables contain calcium, a mineral that keeps your teeth strong. The bacteria in your mouth grow and multiply when there is sugar in your mouth. The bacteria and food particles make plaque on your teeth. They make acids that damage the enamel and cause cavities. Starches such as chips and crackers also turn to sugar in your mouth. Saliva reduces the acids made by bacteria. It also mixes with your food to make chewing and swallowing easier. Choose lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk products to help your teeth stay healthy. Drink water or milk instead of cola. Look at the Food Pyramid. Limit foods from the top section of the Pyramid (the “Use Sparingly” section).
To keep your teeth healthy, avoid drinking sweet drinks such as cola. Avoid snacking on sticky, sugary foods and crackers. If you do snack between meals, eat foods like fruit, cheese, vegetables, and nuts. By eating foods that contain little or no sugar, you can reduce plaque.
Remember: Sugars and Starches + Bacteria = Acids that can cause decay.
- Activity: Sort the following snacks into two groups: (1) Healthy for My Teeth or (2) Not Healthy for My Teeth.
- carrot sticks
- carrot sticks
- Activity: Collect food wrappers from a variety of foods. Read the wrappers and sort them according to whether they have sugar or no sugar. Be careful: Sugar may be hidden in foods under names like sucrose, fructose, dextrose, and corn syrup.
- Activity: Acids can destroy enamel on teeth. Demonstrate this process using eggs. Place a whole egg, with the shell, in a glass with vinegar, an acid. Place another egg in a glass of water. After a day, have students observe the two eggshells and record the differences. What effect does acid have on an eggshell?
- Activity: Healthy teeth give you a beautiful smile! Work together to cut out pictures of smiles from magazines. Make a Smile Collage and put it up in your classroom. What a happy feeling!
- Activity: Brainstorm a list of all of the words for eating. Add them to the word wall. Include words such as
DISCUSS: Visiting the Dentist: Your dentist is important in helping keep your teeth healthy. When you go to the dentist for a checkup, your teeth will be cleaned, removing plaque. Plaque contains germs that make the acids that cause cavities. The dentist examines your teeth and may take X-rays. If you have a cavity, your dentist will repair the tooth. Dentists also look to make sure that your teeth are growing correctly and that your gums are healthy. Your dentist or dental hygienist will also help you learn how to brush and floss so that you can take care of your teeth.
DISCUSS: Using a Mouthguard: Use a mouthguard to protect your teeth when you are playing sports that may injure your mouth. When accidents happen, a tooth may be broken or chipped. You grow only one set of permanent teeth, so you need to take good care of them to keep them from damage.