For the Classroom: Nutrition for Your Teeth

Robin Pittman, MS, CHES – Health Educator

Most elementary-school-age kids know that the basics of good oral care include:

  • brushing their teeth twice a day,
  • flossing each day, and
  • visiting the dentist twice per year.

The food they eat is equally as important to their dental health. Nutrition is important for every cell in our bodies, including teeth and gums.  Here is a simple activity that shows kids the importance of nutrition for not only our bodies, but also for our dental health.

Students at the Poe Center sort foods that are good and bad for your teeth.

Supplies needed:

10 play food items (a mix of healthy items and not healthy items)

2 laminated teeth (one smiling and one sad)

  • Ask two volunteers to assist.
  • Instruct one volunteer to pull out unhealthy foods and drinks from the container and place them on the tooth that is not smiling. We call this tooth “Sad Sal.”
  • Instruct the other volunteer to pull out food and drinks that are healthy and place them on the smiling tooth. We call this tooth “Happy Hal.”
  • After items are placed on each tooth, ask the class if each individual food is healthy or unhealthy for the tooth. Have the students respond with a “Thumbs Up; Thumbs Down” method:

Here are some examples of Healthy Foods:

  • Crunchy fruits & vegetables that don’t stick to the teeth. (apples, carrots, celery)
  • Raisins are made from grapes; so they are healthy. But raisins are sticky and hold the fruit’s sugar on the teeth. So it’s important to brush your teeth afterwards.
  • Milk with calcium? Is it crunchy or sticky? Neither, but it is very healthy for your teeth because the calcium in milk and foods made from milk makes your teeth and bones stronger. Say “calcium.”
  • Foods with calcium: yogurt, cheese, orange juice with calcium added. Calcium can also be found in broccoli and other foods.

Here are some examples of Unhealthy Foods:

  • Sticky foods that stick to teeth & hold the sugar on your teeth.
  • Sodas or any beverage with sugar. The only drinks we need to drink are water and milk.
  • All foods with a lot of sugar- cookies, candy, brownies and cakes.

Book a Program with Poe:

The Poe Center offers a number of dental health programs which include engaging activities, tips, tricks, and fun facts about dental health for children, parents, and educators.  To book a program, call 866-402-4799 or schedule on line.