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Volume 5, Issue 22
December 17, 2007


February is National Children's Dental Health Month. Help your young students understand the importance of brushing and having a clean mouth. Be sure children learn to ask a grown up for help with tooth flossing.

It's time to think about our teeth.
Those small white things that help us eat.

Brush them well 2 times a day
To help you fight tooth decay.

Have a grown up help you floss
Show those mouth germs just who's boss!

Finally, smile a happy smile
That shows bright teeth all the while!

Susan LaBella
Editor, Early Childhood Education Newsletter


Arrange children into three groups and teach each group a stanza of the brief poem that appears above. Invite students in each group to create a picture showing their stanza of the poem. When pictures are complete, let each group display theirs and recite their stanza.

Discuss with your students the kinds of foods that are healthful for teeth. Point out that sugary, sticky foods can cause tooth decay if left on teeth for too long. Next, let each child eat a chocolate sandwich cookie. (Be aware of students who might have allergies to chocolate; you might pair them with a student who does not have the allergy or substitute another type of cookie or popcorn.) Have children use hand mirrors to examine their teeth. Explain that this kind of food left on teeth can cause plaque. Have children rinse mouths with water, then give each student a piece of apple to eat. Again have children examine their teeth and explain what they see. Point out that fruit is a healthful snack for teeth that does not leave a residue. Finally create a large chart. Glue a cut-out paper tooth with a smile at the top of one side of the chart and a cut-out paper tooth with a frown at the top of the other side. Let children go through old magazines or catalogs to find pictures of tooth-happy and tooth-sad foods. Glue pictures on the corresponding side of the chart.

On an easel pad, draw the grid lines for a simple graph. Down the left side of the graph, draw tubes of toothpaste, each one showing a different flavor. (Use a simple drawing on each tube to indicate a flavor, for example, peppermint stick, cherry, bubble gum, and so on.) Next give your graph a title. Invite children to vote on their favorite toothpaste flavor. Draw a smiley face to the right of each flavor to represent each child's vote. When finished, ask children questions that they can answer by studying the picture graph they created. Click here to see a sample graph format.

Precut big smiles from red construction paper. Cut sponges into small squares and place a sponge square onto the end of a clip-type clothespin. Give each child a clothespin and white tempera paint. Help children paint ten white teeth on the top of the smile and ten on the bottom. Encourage children to count as they paint.

Show your children an apple and tell them to pretend it is a tooth. Poke a hole into the apple and place it in your science area. Explain that the hole is like a cavity in a tooth. If you don't brush and floss, and eat healthful foods, teeth can get cavities. Encourage children to watch what happens to the apple during the week. Discuss student findings at the end of the week. Ask What can you do to have healthy, white teeth?

Show children actual dental floss. Let each child feel a piece. Explain the purpose of flossing teeth (to remove hard to reach food that causes germs and plaque). Invite pairs of students to face one another. Ask one student to hold up his/her hand with the fingers spread wide. Give the other child a 6 to 8 inch piece of yarn. Show the child how to wrap the yarn around his/her finger for a good grip. Let him/her "floss" up and down between the other child's fingers, making sure to scrape the sides of each finger. When finished, let the children switch roles.

Take a close-up photo of each child's mouth (smile). Help each child cut out his/her smile from the photo and glue it onto a pre-cut paper tooth. Let each child recite a sentence to you that tells something he/she does to have healthful teeth (for example, I brush after I eat). Write the sentence on the paper tooth under the picture of the smile. Hang all paper teeth onto a bulletin board titled "Look Who Is Smiling!"



American Dental Association
Find all you need to know about dental health -- right here.

Taking Care of Your Teeth
A friendly site with lots of great background info to share with your kids.

Healthy Snacks
Some good tips and ideas to reinforce the concept that eating healthful foods helps our teeth.

What Do Fairies Do With All Those Teeth?
A cute activity to correspond with the book by Michel Luppens. http://www.atozteacherstuff.com/pages/447.shtml

About Your Teeth
Good information to help you explain the kinds of teeth we have and the jobs they do.