October/November 2015 Teacher's Guide for Tooth Decay: a delicate Balance Table of Contents

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Anticipation Guide

Anticipation guides help engage students by activating prior knowledge and stimulating student interest before reading. If class time permits, discuss students’ responses to each statement before reading each article. As they read, students should look for evidence supporting or refuting their initial responses.
Directions: Before reading, in the first column, write “A” or “D,” indicating your agreement or disagreement with each statement. As you read, compare your opinions with information from the article. In the space under each statement, cite information from the article that supports or refutes your original ideas.




  1. The enamel in the outer layer of your tooth is the hardest substance in your body.

  1. The mineral that makes up tooth enamel is made of sodium and carbonate ions.

  1. Your saliva contains buffers that resist a change in pH.

  1. When teeth are exposed to low pH for extended periods of time, an unstable equilibrium causes tooth decay.

  1. The pH in your mouth causes the pH in your body to change.

  1. In a chemical equilibrium, the concentration of molecules on both sides of the chemical equation are the same.

  1. Food increases the pH in your mouth.

  1. Carbon dioxide is involved in maintaining equilibrium in your mouth.

  1. Composite resins made of polymers are usually used to fill holes in tooth enamel.

  1. One drawback to using amalgams to fill teeth is that the hole drilled for the filling removes healthy tissue.

Reading Strategies

These graphic organizers are provided to help students locate and analyze information from the articles. Students’ understanding will be enhanced when they explore and evaluate the information themselves, with input from the teacher if students are struggling. Encourage students to use their own words and avoid copying entire sentences from the articles. The use of bullets helps them do this. If you use these reading strategies to evaluate student performance, you may want to develop a grading rubric such as the one below.






Complete; details provided; demonstrates deep understanding.



Complete; few details provided; demonstrates some understanding.



Incomplete; few details provided; some misconceptions evident.



Very incomplete; no details provided; many misconceptions evident.


Not acceptable

So incomplete that no judgment can be made about student understanding

Teaching Strategies:

  1. Links to Common Core Standards for Reading:

    1. ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.5: Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).

    2. ELA-Literacy.RST.11-12.4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.

  1. Links to Common Core Standards for Writing:

    1. ELA-Literacy.WHST.9-10.2F: Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).

    2. ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.1E: Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.

  1. Vocabulary and concepts that are reinforced in this issue:

    1. Solution chemistry

    2. Chemical equilibrium

    3. Acids and bases

    4. pH

    5. Buffers

    6. Molecular structures

  1. The infographic about autumn leaves on page 19 will engage students with more information about some of the natural dyes found in “Eating With Your Eyes.”

  1. To help students engage with the text, ask students which article engaged them most and why, or what questions they still have about the articles. The Background Information in the ChemMatters Teachers Guide has suggestions for further research and activities.

Directions: As you read the article, complete the graphic organizer below to describe how chemistry helps us understand each topic listed.


Chemical Structure and/or Chemical Equation

Tooth enamel


Acids & Bases in your body

Acids & Bases in your mouth

How tooth decay is treated

Summary: On the back of this paper, write a sentence to explain how chemical equilibrium helps prevent tooth decay.

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