A few weeks ago I ordered a book about cleaning teeth after reading about it in a Sunday Supplement. I don’t imagine I’m the only parent who has trouble getting my children to brush their teeth, so the concept of the book really appealed. Open Wide, What’s Inside is written by a dentist who came up with the idea for a story about ‘sugarbugs’ as a way of encouraging children to keep their mouths clean. And it has enthralled my children. I imagine that this is a lot to do with the explanation about sugarbugs pooing on your teeth and creating holes which hurt. The illustrations genuinely do not appeal to me but I definitely recommend the book.
The Girls and I did a lot of talking about teeth and cleaning them. I ordered some disclosure tablets so that they could see the sugarbug poo on their teeth, and we did a simple craft to illustrate how teeth cleaning protects your teeth from these nasty little critters. I just cut large teeth shapes from white card and The Girls ‘coloured’ them with candle- white wax crayon would work too. Then we painted over them with watercolour paint, which stuck to the paper but not to the waxed areas. It’s a great demonstration of the need for tooth brushing.
I also put a call out to Science Sparks for any science experiments relating to teeth erosion and she pointed me in the direction of soaking an egg in vinegar, an experiment that I cannot recommend enough. All you do is put an egg in a cup- I used a glass so that we could observe the changes easily- and cover it with white vinegar.
At the same time, we put other eggs in other glasses and covered them with other liquids. The Girls made the excellent point that if the eggs are like teeth- the shell acts in the same way that tooth enamel does, to protect what’s inside- then we should soak them in things we drink regularly and see if there is a difference. Right there my little home scientists were born *pauses for proud Mamma moment*.
So, we soaked one in water, one in milk, one in Coke and one in orange juice. And 24 hours later we took them out to examine them. The shell on the water egg hadn’t changed, obviously. The Girls are certain that the milk egg was whiter. The Coke Egg was darker, so there was real evidence of what happens to your teeth if you drink fizzy drinks and don’t clean your teeth. The Orange Juice egg was scarier still: there was a layer of scum on the surface of the juice and the egg was definitely losing it’s protective layer. We were all utterly horrified. The White vinegar egg was the most changed of all- although it still had a shell, the egg had become softer and larger.
In fact the White Vinegar egg was ‘boinging like a ball Mamma.’ So, heart in mouth, we decided to test out theory. Sure enough the egg bounced. Repeatedly. Given this exciting development, we elected to put the egg into a fresh glass of white vinegar overnight to see if there was a further change. And in the morning, a mere 36 hours after we submerged it, the egg had lost the last vestiges of it’s shell.
It was a properly gripping experiment for us all. I had never known that you could dissolve an egg shell in vinegar. But the most alarming result for me was that- although at a far slower pace- the Orange Juice egg was headed in the same direction. We did try brushing all of our eggs with toothpaste and had mixed results- some areas of eggs came clean and some did not. Regardless I think that our home experiment proved to the girls that they needed to brush their teeth to prevent this kind of damage. And they were clearly excited, fascinated and delighted by it because I had to mark up all the eggs so that they could both take them into school for show and tell.