877-542-5504 877-542-5504

Fun with Elementary School Dental Health Education Lesson Plan

Want to Help Fellow Teachers?

Please help us grow this free resource by submitting your favorite lesson plans.

Lesson Plan #: AELP-BSS0011
Submitted by: Brian F. Geiger
Email: bgeiger@uab.edu
School/University/Affiliation: University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Education, Department of Human Studies
Date: February 8, 1999

Grade Level(s): 1, 2, 3


  • Health/Body Systems and senses

Description: The purpose of the two-part lesson is to teach early elementary students about the health benefits of good dental hygiene and eating healthful snacks. There are four learner objectives. Each student will: 1. Correctly identify basic parts of the tooth using illustrations; 2. Correctly define four common symptoms of periodontal disease (halitosis, caries, bleeding, and gingivitis) due to poor dental hygiene; 3. Practice proper brushing and flossing techniques using classroom models; and 4. Correctly identify healthful snack foods that promote dental health from a list of food choices.

Goals: N/A

Objectives: N/A

Materials: overhead transparencies or other illustrations of basic tooth anatomy and common dental health problems, toothbrushes and dental floss, red tempera paint, paintbrush and a cup of water, paper towels, baking flour, yarn or household string, empty egg cartons, snack food list, carrots, and celery sticks.


Part I:

Use illustrations to introduce students to the anatomy of a healthy tooth. Identify the location of enamel, crown, roots, dentin, pulp, gums and jawbone. Discuss common symptoms of periodontal disease, i.e., bad breath, red, swollen, and bleeding gums, teeth staining, mouth pain, tooth decay. Compare healthy to diseased teeth and gums. Emphasize each student’s ability to prevent these dental health problems. Provide each student with toothbrushes and dental floss samples. Demonstrate tooth brushing technique on mouth or model. Instruct students to brush their teeth, tongue, and gums twice daily.

Discuss the importance of flossing between teeth in addition to regular brushing in order to remove small pieces of food between teeth and gums. Using tempera paint, paint the back and palm surfaces of your hand. Make sure that paint drips between your fingers. Explain to students that your painted hand is like their teeth after eating food. Small pieces of food stick to teeth after chewing.

Hold your fingers tightly together. Ask a student volunteer to brush and wipe the paint off your hand using a toothbrush and a paper towel. Open your fingers to reveal paint left between them after brushing. Discuss how food will remain between students’ teeth if they do not floss. Instruct students to floss at least once daily. Reinforce the importance of brushing and flossing after meals with a second demonstration activity. Show to students an egg carton turned upside down. Tell them to pretend that the egg carton is their jaw bone and bottom teeth. Sprinkle flour on the egg carton. Brush and floss the teeth to remove the small food pieces using a toothbrush and yarn or household string. Distribute similar teeth models, toothbrushes, and string to small groups of 3-4 students. Instruct students to take turns brushing and flossing their teeth after you sprinkle the flour on the egg cartons.

Part II:

The purpose of the second part of this lesson is to practice selecting healthful foods for meals and snacks. As a group, students will read aloud a list of snack foods and circle only the names of healthful choices. Healthful choices are fresh fruits and vegetables, e.g., carrot, peanut, pear, apple. Unhealthful choices contain high fat and high sugar content, e.g., french fries, cake, pie, cookie, candy. As an alternative to using a word list, use a worksheet of clip art images or magazine pictures of foods. Guide the class to select only the healthful foods by considering fat and sugar content. Emphasize the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Serve to students a snack of carrot and celery sticks while they complete the worksheet.

Assessment: Provide directed feedback and reinforcement during the brushing and flossing practice session. Close the lesson by asking students to identify the important reasons why they should brush and floss each day. Guide students’ selection of healthful foods from a word list, clip art sheet, or school cafeteria menu. Ask students to pick at least two healthful foods to ask their parent or guardian to serve to them.

Useful Resources: Other Informational Resources:

1. American Dental Association, 1980, Learning About Your Oral Health. A Prevention-Oriented School Program. Level II: 4-6. Chicago, IL: ADA.

2. American Medical Association Healthier Youth by the Year 2000 Project, 1991, Healthy Youth 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for Adolescents. Chicago, IL.