Plaque Attack and Other Fun Dental Experiments for Kids
If you’re looking for toothy science experiments for kids, Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry has got some great resources for you. Check out these 5 fun science projects or keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to set up a plaque attack and other fun dental experiments for kids.
1. Apple Cavity Experiment
Want to show your kids the problems cavities cause when we don’t take care of our teeth? Start with this simple apple cavity tooth science experiment.
- 3 apples
- A sharpened pencil
- 3 paper bags
- A sharp knife
Step 1: Take one apple and use the sharpened pencil to make five to 10 holes in it. Poke only one hole in the second apple and use the third apple as the control.
Step 2: Put the apples in separate paper bags and let them stay there overnight.
Step 3: Use a sharp knife to cut all the apples in half.
The control apple will appear normal, while the apples with holes in them will have turned brown, an early sign of decay.
Explain to your kids how the skin of the apple protects the insides, and when it’s compromised (like with a punctured hole), the whole fruit begins to rot, just like with our teeth. The hard outer surface of our teeth, the enamel, can only protect our teeth if it remains intact. Any break in the enamel may allow bacteria to accumulate and cause the development of cavities.
2. Plaque Attack Experiment
Now this may just be our favorite tooth science project here at Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry. Your little one gets a front row seat to the Plaque Formation Show, experiments like this one may just be gross enough to nudge them onto a path of good oral hygiene.
- 2 cups of warm water
- 4 tsp of yeast
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 2 plastic spoons
Step 1: Use separate spoons to add 2 teaspoons of yeast into each cup of warm water.
Step 2: Pour 1 tablespoon of sugar into one of the cups and stir the mixture. Remember to use different plastic spoons for each of your cups.
A brown foam will start coming out of the cup you added sugar into. Ask your kids to try and guess why this did not happen in the other cup.
As you discuss the experiment with your little Isaac Newton, talk about how sugar in our mouth also creates plaque, and if this sticky fluid is not removed through proper brushing and flossing twice a day, it can lead to tooth decay or even gum disease.
3. “Think Before You Drink” Experiment
Soda pops, energy drinks, and apple juice. Most of our patients here at your favorite kids’ dentist (Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry) love either all three or at least one. Some maybe even love these drinks a little too much. If that’s true for your family, try the Think Before You Drink tooth science experiment. It can help show your kids how much hidden sugar is in such drinks and how it can damage your teeth.
- 6 clear disposable cups
- 3 soft drinks (e.g soda pop, energy drink, and a juice box)
- A bowl of sugar
- A teaspoon
- A permanent marker
- A notepad
Step 1: Use the permanent marker to label three cups with the names of the soft drinks you chose for this tooth science project.
Step 2: Read the label for each soft drink to find out the total grams of sugar in each. Divide this value by 4.2 to find out the number of teaspoons of sugar in each drink. Record your values in the notepad.
Step 3: Add the number of teaspoons of sugar you found in step 2 into the labeled cups and set it aside.
Step 4: Use the permanent marker to label the remaining three cups with a drink name and place each cup in front of its corresponding soft drink.
Step 5: Ask your child to add the amount of sugar they think is in each soft drink into the cup in front of it.
Step 6: Bring out the cups you placed aside that had the actual amount of sugar in each drink and compare the two sets of cups.
Did your little one guess higher or lower than what was actually in the drink? We often don’t realize how much sugar is in our drinks. But such hidden sugars in drinks are just as bad for our teeth as candy and chocolate is. Brainstorm with your child on how you can make healthier drink choices. Some great options would be to switch soda pop for milk and energy drinks with vegetable juices that are low in sugar.
4. Flossing Experiment
Flossing involves a lot of hand-eye coordination that can be hard to master for our kids, especially the younger ones. Doing experiments that involve flossing will help your child get some practice in. This tooth science project is a great hands-on activity to explain flossing and also learn why it’s an important part of any good oral hygiene routine.
- Jar of peanut butter or any other sticky food product
- Rubber glove
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- A spoon
- Dental floss
Step 1: Put the glove on your hand. Spread your fingers apart and ask your child to smear peanut butter on every side of your fingers.
Step 2: Put your fingers together. Add toothpaste to your toothbrush and let your child try to brush the peanut butter away. Make sure you don’t separate your fingers throughout the process.
Step 3: While still pressing your finger firmly together, ask your child to use dental floss to clean the area between your fingers.
Even after cleaning the glove with a toothbrush and toothpaste, the dental floss still comes out with peanut butter on it.
Explain to your child that your fingers represent your teeth, and that no matter how great you are at brushing, peanut butter (or any other food particle) can still remain in the space between the teeth. That’s why it’s important that we also floss, so we can clean the places where a toothbrush can’t.
5. Egg Carton Toothbrush Painting Activity
Another tooth science project our Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry patients love doing is the egg carton toothbrush painting activity. It’s a fun, hands-on activity that teaches kids the importance of brushing and flossing. And as an added bonus, it takes less than five minutes to set up.
- White Styrofoam egg carton
- Washable tempera paint (you can choose any color)
- 2 toothbrushes
- 12-inch string
- Bowl of water
- Toothpaste (optional)
Step 1: Flip the egg carton so the bumps are on top. Use one of your toothbrushes to paint the dips and bumps as well as in between each egg space. Let it dry.
Step 2: Dip the other toothbrush into your bowl of water. Add toothpaste onto the bristles and start brushing the egg cups to try and remove the paint.
Step 3: Next, use the string to remove any leftover paint in the space between each egg space.
Step 4: Rinse your egg carton in the bowl of water, and if there’s any leftover paint on the egg carton, repeat steps 2 and 3.
Using an egg carton allows your child to visualize the different areas of teeth that we need to clean on a daily basis. As you paint the dips and bumps and try to remove the paint between each egg space, your child starts to understand how it’s easy to miss some places if you’re not careful.
Have fun with these fun science experiments!
Try any of these 5 toothy science experiments on this list and let us know how it went through our Facebook page or during your next dental appointment at our Vancouver office. We look forward to seeing your smiles.