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Teachers: PSHE: Health influences

Last Updated: Tuesday August 15 2006 12:28 GMT

Take care of your teeth

Health influences


A survey found that more than 60% of children in some parts of Scotland had tooth decay by the end of primary school. The figure was only 30% in other areas*.

Most of the tooth decay was concentrated in the first permanent molars, which come into the mouth around six years of age.

Learning aims

  • Know that some foods can cause decay in teeth.
  • Know some ways to prevent tooth decay.


    Click below to read the story:

    Ask children to find a talking partner and discuss ways in which you can ensure teeth stay healthy and what makes teeth decay. Write a class list with two headings - 'good for teeth' and 'not so good for teeth'.

    Prompt: Most foods and drinks contain sugar but some have more than others; a doughnut can contain the equivalent of 30 teaspoons of sugar while a large handful of raisins has below five teaspoons.

    Main activity

    Give each pair of children a large piece of paper and model how to make a record chart with two headings - 'good for teeth' and 'not so good for teeth' - across the top. Give out a selection of supermarket food catalogues or leaflets and some pictures generated by computer and ask the children to cut out foods which they think are good and not so good. Glue the pictures under the appropriate heading and make a pile of any pictures which they are unsure about.

    Prompt: All dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are a good source of calcium - an essential nutrient for the development of bones and teeth.

    Extension activities

    Design a poster for a nearby dentist or a role-play area in a younger class which demonstrates the benefits of eating dairy foods or the dangers of eating food with high amounts of sugar. Encourage the children to devise a bold heading such as 'Healthy Teeth' or 'Cut The Sugar'.


    Children use their charts to share ideas of the 'good' and 'not so good' foods. You can also use this time to discuss the foods which children were unsure about. Talk about visiting the dentist every six months and demonstrate the correct way to brush your teeth - twice a day for two minutes, using short and gentle strokes, keeping the brush at a 45 degree angle.

    Teachers' background
    • Invisible germs called bacteria live in your mouth all the time. Some of these bacteria form a sticky material called plaque on the surface of the teeth. When you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria uses this for energy and turn it into acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth.

    • If you eat sweets, it's best to eat them as dessert after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals.

    • Teeth friendly foods include melons, tangerines, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, pasta, low fat cheese, chicken, turkey and nuts.

    • * The National Dental Inspection Programme (NDIP) has identified that more than 60% of children in some areas of Scotland have decaying teeth by the end of primary school, compared to 30% in other areas.

    • The NDIP report also said that Scotland was the only country to set a dental target for primary seven children. Some of Scotland's health boards have set a target that 60% of P7-aged pupils should show no sign of decay in their adult teeth by 2010.

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