These experiments illustrate the importance of brushing teeth.
dental health, teeth, brush, Dental Health Month, toothbrush
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Note: The following materials represent those required to complete all the experiments below. See each experiment for individual requirements.
This lesson offers a handful of experiments designed to demonstrate the potential effects of sweets and other foods on healthy teeth. Students might work in small groups to perform the experiments.
For this simple experiment for primary grade students, fill one container with water and another with a brown soft drink -- cola or root beer, for example. Place a hard-boiled egg into each container. (You might give each student an egg to place in the soft-drink container.) Leave the eggs in the soft drink overnight. Pour out the liquid the next day and examine the eggs. Have students compare the eggs left in the soda to the egg left in the water. How are the eggs different? Why? Students should be able to draw the conclusion that it is important to brush each night to keep their teeth clean and white.
Before doing this experiment, collect chicken bones and set them aside to dry for a few days. (You might ask students a week in advance to collect chicken bones at home and bring them into school.) Provide each student or small group of students with 2 or more bones. Have student(s) place one of the bones in a plastic cup; then pour vinegar in the cup to cover the bone. Leave the other bone exposed to the air. Let the bones sit for several days, and then have students compare the two bones. What has happened? Why? (The bones soaked in vinegar will be noticeably softer. Vinegar is an acid. It has eaten away some of the bones' calcium.) Students should conclude from this activity that brushing and flossing teeth removes harmful food particles from teeth. Food left between teeth eventually turns to a kind of acid that can decay teeth.
If you are able to collect extracted teeth from a local dentist, you can adapt Experiment 2 in the following way: Have students brush nail polish onto half of a tooth and let it dry. Put the teeth in a variety of solutions -- including water, water with sugar, a soft drink, water with salt, and vinegar -- to see what effects those solutions have on the teeth. Compare the effects and draw conclusions about tooth care.
See the following experiments for additional ideas:
Students write a brief paragraph to describe what they did and what they learned.
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