Lesson: Dental Health

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Course: Wellness

Unit: Preventive Health Care

esson: Dental Health

Competency Objectives: The adult learner will understand causes of tooth decay and gum disease.

The adult learner will understand ways to prevent tooth and gum disease.

Suggested Criteria for Success: The learner will brush at least twice daily and floss daily.

The learner will acquire some dental terminology in English.

Suggested Vocabulary: brush tartar decay

enamel calculus tooth (teeth)

flouride gums filling

plaque toothbrush bacteria

dental floss toothpaste dentist

cavity periodontal disease dental hygienist

Suggested Materials: a good toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss

an old, worn toothbrush


eggshell (use the halves of a broken eggshell from your cooking)

a clear (not diet) soda like Sprite and the contents label for the soda

a cup, glass, or jar that you can see through

a fresh apple and a paper bag

copies (one per student) of the attachments at the end of this lesson (Some

Vocabulary Words, Oral Health, CLUE, Pictures)

copies of any materials from the Suggested Resources that you decide to use,

with a minimum of an instructor copy recommended. Some materials

for kids are simple and clear for second language adults. Prepare

such materials so they are not labeled for kids.

pens or pencils and paper.

Suggested Resources: http://www2.state.tn.us/health/oralhealth/. Under Dental Activity Pages (left side of screen), click on Brush and Floss Puzzle. For other good resources, click on Dental Fact Sheets (left side of screen) and then on (1) Preventing Tooth Decay and (2) Preventing Periodontal Disease. The Tooth Eruption Tables (Primary and Permanent) are good, as is the segment on Nutrition. If you have difficulty with the address above, try http://www.state.tn.us. Use the search feature (bottom left) to search for oral health. Click on Tennessee Department of Health – Oral Health Services.

http://www.adha.org/oralhealth/children.htm. Child Oral Health.

Suggested Methods: Demonstration, Discussion, Matching, Journal Work

Some Suggested Steps:
Double Duty. Review the word brush with your class. Brush can be both a noun and a verb. “I brush my teeth with a (tooth)brush.” Ask students if they know other words that are both nouns and verbs. (John will tie his tie.)
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy. Help the class read the section on Strong Teeth and Healthy Gums from the page entitled Oral Health (included at the end of this lesson.) Explain terms and concepts. The attachment called Some Vocabulary Words has some pictures to help you.
Brush and Floss. Help the class read the section on Brushing and Flossing from the page entitled Oral Health (included at the end of this lesson). Demonstrate how to brush and floss correctly.
Show the class a fresh apple. Make a small hole deep into the apple and put it in a paper bag. Ask the class what they think will happen. After a few days, open the bag and cut into the apple. Explain that the brown that shows in the apple is similar to the cavity that will occur in their teeth if they do not brush.
Show the worn toothbrush to the class. Ask them what to do with it. (Replace it. Throw it away.)
Nutrition. Help the class read the section on Nutrition from the page entitled Oral Health (included at the end of this lesson). Advanced readers may explore http://www2.state.tn.us/health/oralhealth/nutrition.html. In lieu of the older food pyramid that can be accessed from this website, have students substitute the current pyramid at http://www.mypyramid.gov/index.html.
Show the class an eggshell, which is similar (for purposes of this demonstration) to the enamel on a tooth. Use a Sprite or another non-diet, clear soda. Pour the soda in a clear cup, glass, or jar. Ask the class what they think will happen. Put the contents of the soda product label on the board for the class to copy. Keep this experiment until the next day. Then ask the class why they think the eggshell is so soft. (What is the effect of sugar on tooth enamel?)
Vocabulary. Use CLUE, included in this assignment), and scissors. Cut the segments apart and give teams of students a set of words and a set of clues. (It is helpful to glue these to heavy paper.) Split the page into two halves if you want students to work with a smaller number of words/clues at the time. The team leader reads the clue: the team members search the words to find a match. Students may use the Oral Health page for reference. Everyone on a team must agree before moving to another clue. The first team to finish wins if all their matches are correct. Have the class read the matches aloud to check correctness. Answer any questions. Let students copy the vocabulary words and clues in their Journals.
CLUE Review. For oral practice,

  • give the clues orally and ask students to respond with the appropriate vocabulary word, and

  • give the vocabulary words orally and ask students to use them in a sentence. Do group (class) sentence construction if that is better suited to your students.

Journal Work. Give each student a copy of the page of pictures included at the end of this assignment. The Journal work for this lesson is to write about one of the pictures. Lead class discussion about possible topics for each picture to help students grasp the concept of writing about images, memories, experiences, or ideas that the pictures bring to mind rather than describing the picture. For example, picture 2 might cause someone to write about (1) Good Dental Care Makes Happy Teeth, or (2) Brushing Properly, or (3) My Toothpaste Test (brands tried, the taste of each, and their favorite/winner), or (4) Inventing Jalapeño Toothpaste: a Fantasy.

Some Vocabulary Words

Bacteria Brush

Decay Dentist

Floss Gums


Oral Health
Strong Teeth and Healthy Gums. Invisible bacteria (germs) cover your teeth in a layer called plaque. To remove plaque, brush and floss your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss daily.
The bacteria in plaque use the sugar and starch in your food to make acids. These acids eat away the enamel surface of your teeth and cause decay. A small spot of decay on a tooth is called a cavity. Your dentist repairs a cavity by filling it to save the tooth from more decay.
Plaque must be removed daily, or it hardens into calculus or tartar. Calculus irritates your gums and leads to gum disease (periodontal disease). Calculus cannot be brushed or flossed away. You must have your teeth cleaned by a dentist or a dental hygienist to remove it. It is good to have your teeth cleaned twice a year by a professional.
Brushing and Flossing. Brush your teeth with a soft brush. Get a new toothbrush when yours is worn or after you have been sick. Never share a toothbrush. Daily flossing removes plaque between teeth.
Nutrition. What you eat affects your teeth and gums. When you eat also affects your teeth and gums. Good nutrition (fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, meat) makes teeth strong and gums healthy. The more sugar and starch your diet contains, the more likely you are to get tooth decay. Sugars and starches between meals are more harmful than sugars and starches with a meal.
Regular Dental Care. Regular visits to a dentist help you keep healthy teeth and gums.




a hole in your tooth enamel


a thin layer of germs that forms on the teeth


This goes on your toothbrush.

Dental Floss

Use this to remove plaque between your teeth.


the hard, white part of your tooth


Do this after eating to prevent tooth decay.


This should be in toothpaste to fight tooth decay.

Cities and towns often add this to the water.

Tartar or Calculus

If you do not brush plaque away, it hardens on your teeth and is called ___.

Periodontal disease

an infection of the gums that can result in tooth loss, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and premature/underweight babies


this is what you use to brush your teeth




what a dentist uses to fix a cavity

Red, swollen, bleeding gums

signs of periodontal disease

Choose one of the following pictures and write about it.

Course: Wellness

Unit: Preventive Health Care

Lesson: Children’s Dental Care

Competency Objectives: Adults will learn the anatomy of a tooth.

Adults will read questions and answers about children’s dental health.

Adults will acquire dental health related vocabulary.

Adults will be introduced to the gerund.

Suggested Criteria for Success: The class will be able to identify baby-bottle tooth decay and how it happens.

Students will understand the importance of dental care for children from birth.

Students will practice dental health vocabulary and using gerunds.
Suggested Vocabulary: teething decaying smiling

biting brushing flossing

drooling putting holding

See additional vocabulary list at the end of this lesson.

Suggested Materials:  small hand held mirrors

 donated toothbrushes, toothpaste, and reveal tablets

 overhead projector

instructor copy of The Importance of Baby Teeth

 printouts for each student: Tooth Anatomy

Caring for Children’s Teeth, A Parent’s Guide put out by the Crest company
Suggested Resources: http://www.saveyoursmile.com, click on Parent Dental Center, click on directory, then on The Importance of Baby Teeth.
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/anatomy/teeth/toothanatomy.shtml This inexpensive membership site has excellent materials on Tooth Anatomy. If you start at http://www.enchantedlearning.com , click on Anatomy under the Site Index on the right side of the screen, scroll down and click on Tooth Anatomy Page and Printout.
http://www.crest.com/siteMap.html Scroll down and click on Tips for Parents. Now click on Parent’s Guide.
http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_verbals.html Verbals: Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives
Your local health department or home health nurse
Dental Health Technicians from a local community college
Suggested Methods: Inquiry, Student Discussion, Goal Setting
Getting Started: Introduce the lesson and the target grammatical form, the gerund. Explain the form and how we use it. Then use the overhead to show the parts of the tooth. As you talk, ask students to raise their hand every time they hear you use a gerund form. Be sure students can differentiate between the gerund and the progressive verb tenses.
Inquiry: Introduce the vocabulary by having students draw slips from a hat. Have learners pronounce the words phonetically. Then, have students break into groups of threes or fours with their slips of paper. Each student should have a Crest Parent’s Guide. Have the small groups be responsible for finding and reporting to the class the vocabulary meanings. Some help may be required from more advanced learners.
Lecture: Share information from The Importance of Baby Teeth.
Student Discussion: Talk about new information students have learned. Allow students to tell their own stories or share experiences with their own cultural beliefs about teeth and dental care, especially as they pertain to children.
Inside and Out. Share the diagram of the tooth and it’s parts. Help students locate their vocabulary words on the diagram. Talk about new information the diagram has helped the students understand. If you have been able to get some dental health student or professional, have them show slides or videos. Usually if you ask, they will bring the toothbrushes and toothpaste as well as the reveal tablets.
Brush Contest. Challenge students to do the best job brushing. Take bets on who will brush more completely. Then have students chew the reveal tablets and smile. Anyone not wishing to participate can handle the betting.
Goal Setting: Now students can expand vocabulary by writing new goals related to brushing, flossing, infant tooth care and so on. Give incentives for the student who is able to use the largest number of vocabulary words for the day in writing their goals. Be sure to follow up on the goals at the future class meetings (i.e., let students tell you how they are doing in achieving their goals).

Additional Dental Vocabulary













tooth enamel











gum line









permanent teeth




baby bottle tooth decay



baby teeth (primary teeth)

Suggested Questions to Quiz for Understanding

1. You should place your toothbrush at a 75-degree angle to brush your teeth.

2. You should never brush your tongue.
3. The less time you spend brushing, the more stains you remove.
4. Children should use an adult toothbrush.
5. You should brush your teeth twice a week.
6. Incisors, canines, and molars are all types of teeth.
7. Children are born with their permanent teeth.
8. You should not begin to brush your child's teeth until they are at least two years old.
9. Only adults should floss.
10. You should give your baby a bottle at bedtime if it contains water only.
11. You should push floss deep into your gums to make sure you get them clean.
12. Dentin is the hardest surface in our body and it is on our teeth.
13. Drinking lots of juice and soda, as well as eating loads of candy, does not harm your child's teeth.
14. It is not important to wash your hands after touching unsanitary things.

Dental Health

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