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Talking with children about their oral health can be a rewarding activity for both you and your young audience. In addition to school classrooms, there are other groups that serve children who could benefit from oral health education activities. Examples include: Boys and Girls Clubs, Head Start programs, faith-based youth groups, YMCA/YWCA. Select a topic for ideas and resources:

Presentations

Here are some outlines that may be helpful in preparing your presentation. They provide a basic presentation geared toward a variety of age ranges. Use the outlines as a guide and tailor your speech to fit your style and comfort level. Also, adjust the content based on the needs and background of the children.

  • Talking About Teeth (preschool and grade 1) (DOC)
  • There's Magic in Your Smile (grades 2–4) (DOC)
  • Smile Power (grades 4–6) (DOC) 
  • Smile Appeal (grades 7–12)  (DOC)

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Oral Health Discussion Ideas

Use these resources for interactive discussions with children about their oral health.

Topic

Discussion Idea

Healthy Habits Name some things that you do to keep your body healthy. There are daily health habits that everyone needs to practice, such as eating a proper diet, exercising, bathing, and sleeping. Caring for your mouth is as important as caring for the rest of your body. Cleaning teeth and gums removes a sticky film of plaque. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
MyPlate Explanation Show the USDA 'Choose My Plate' chart to children. Explain/review the food groups and why each is important for healthy bodies and teeth. List the five main food groups on a chalkboard or easel (grain, fruit, vegetable, dairy, and protein). Have children discuss some of their favorite foods and write them under the appropriate group. Bring enough healthy snacks to share with the children and ask them to identify its food group. Free reproducible MyPlate sheets for children are available on the United States Department of Agriculture's website.
Primary Teeth Have children raise their hand if they had a tooth that fell out. Ask one or two children to describe what it feels like without the tooth. Discuss baby teeth. Some teeth are supposed to come out. They are called the "baby" teeth or "primary" teeth. After a baby tooth comes out, another tooth will come in. This new tooth must last for many, many years. You must take extra special care by brushing each day. (See also: Eruption charts: Primary Teeth and Permanent Teeth)
Tooth Function Ask children to make a list of what foods can be eaten without teeth and what foods must be chewed. Without teeth you couldn't chew crunchy foods like carrots, nuts, or apples. Have children pronounce the alphabet and tell which sounds are made by using the teeth, tongue, and lips. If you didn't have any teeth, it wouldn't be easy to say teeth, toys, or toothbrush.
 

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Hands-on Activities

Hands-on activities can be effective ways of getting across your oral health messages. Activities like those listed below can add to an oral presentation and leave lasting impressions.

Activity

Duration

Description

Apple Decay Demonstration 3 day prep, 15 minutes Show how decay can spread through a tooth using an apple with a hole in it.
Disclosing Invisible Plaque 20 minutes Have a student use food coloring to show where in their mouths plaque can hide.
Flossing Demonstration 30 minutes Have children practice flossing together.
How Dental Sealants Work

15 minutes

Show how acids can erode unprotected teeth using vinegar and an antacid tablet.

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Easy-to do Activities

The following activities from this year's National Children's Dental Health Month Program Planning Guide contain easy-to-do activites that can be done at any time.

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Career Planning Activity

Have your students read the Dental Careers personal stories on our site and then have them answer the questions about careers in dental hygiene and dental assisting.

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Games & Animations

Visit the ADA's "For Kids" section to play student-focused dental games and animations.

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Dental Health Speaker

Contact the local dental society to inquire about having a dental health month speaker come to your classroom. You can find the address and phone number by clicking here.

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ADA Print and Video Resources

The ADA produces a wide variety of educational materials, including pamphlets, posters, teaching packets and audiovisuals. To purchase materials, call 800-947-4746 or visit our online catalog for more information.

The ADA also produces a series of award-winning public service announcements, "Dudley and Friends."

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