Administration for Children and Families 
Administration on Children, Youth and Families 
Head Start Bureau

Dental Health Curriculum


There are many ways you can provide meaningful learning experiences about dental health that can help your Head Start children develop good attitudes and habits. Learning about good dental health care at an early age can help children throughout their lives. Dental disease can be prevented and healthy teeth can last a lifetime.

This teaching guide has been prepared to assist you in conducting dental health lessons that can help your Head Start children develop an understanding of the importance of, their teeth and of ways to keep a healthy mouth.

The guide contains lesson plans far the following areas:

*Introduction to the Dental Health Program
*Visiting the Dentist
*Awareness of the Mouth
*The Important Functions of the Mouth
*The Importance of Keeping Teeth and Gums Clean
*The Importance of Fluoride and Sealants
*Wise Food Choices for a Healthy Mouth
*Keeping Teeth Safe
*Reinforcement Activities for Dental Health


The introductory lesson is provided to introduce the children to a puppet character, "Smiley, the Super Pup," who is used at the end of every lesson to review the concepts that have been presented. Although the use of the puppet is optional, as each lesson can be presented without it, it is felt that the puppet will provide a fun way to review each lesson and will help the children connect all the areas of dental health that are presented in the curriculum. A pattern for making Smiley is included in the introductory lesson.

Depending on your particular situation, you may choose to change the order of some of the lessons. The "Visiting the Dentist" lesson was placed first because Head Start children often have their first dental visit in the beginning of the Head Start year. In these instances, it is important for the children and their parents to become familiarized with what occurs during a dental visit so they will not be fearful of the experience.

Each lesson contains the following sections:

Purpose - This section provides information for the teacher on why the lesson is presented and what the lesson hopes to accomplish.

Materials Needed - This section indicates what items you will need, such as:

*felt, old magazines, construction paper, crayons, etc.
*the activity pages (found at the end of each lesson) that need to be duplicated for use during the lesson
*parent letters (also found at the end of each lesson) and any other information that should be duplicated and sent home to parents.

Background Information for the Teacher - This section provides detailed information about specific dental health topics to help the teacher present the lesson.

Starting the Lesson - This section provides specific ways to start each lesson. It includes discussion questions to ask the children to help them develop a foundation for the dental health information that will be presented to them.

Classroom Activities - This section provides activities to conduct with the children to help reinforce the dental health information that has been presented to them. Many of the activities involve other areas of the curriculum, such as music, art, counting, and language arts. This presents an opportunity to integrate the dental health lessons with other areas of the Head Start curriculum.

Lesson Review, Puppet Story (Optional) - This section provides an opportunity to review the lesson by using the character "Smiley, the Super Pup" in a puppet story. The puppet story scripts are written so as to involve the children by asking questions to which they may respond.

Parent Letter - A letter for parents is provided at the end of each lesson. It may be duplicated and sent home with every child to inform parents of the dental health lesson that has been presented at Head Start. You may sign the letter, cut of f the lesson title, and duplicate a copy for each child to take home, or you may rewrite the letters, adding information that especially relates to your classroom. In some lessons there are special information pages for copying and attaching to the parent letter.

Included at the end of the guide is:

*A Resource List of organizations to contact for more information about dental health.

*Home Visit Activities to provide ideas of ways to involve parents in dental health activities for their families.

*Information on caring for the disabled child's dental health.

Each of the lessons may take several days or even weeks to complete, depending on your Head Start class and the amount of time you spend on each activity. Within each lesson there are suggestions for statements you may say to the children and questions to ask them. These may, however, be changed by you according to what you believe is most easily understood by your Head Start class. Whenever possible, you are encouraged to add activities or change those suggested so that they will be most meaningful for the children with whom you are working, given their specific background, their previous experiences, and their family lifestyle.

Pages of the manual are perforated and have holes punched in them so they will fit into a three-ring binder. This has been done to enable you to remove pages that you wish to duplicate and then replace them so that all lesson pages may be kept together in a binder. Before you cut out a pattern or color an activity page, be sure that the original page has been returned to your manual so you will be able to use it again. It is suggested in some lessons that you copy activity pages, color them, and mount them on heavy paper to make them sturdier for handling. All pages are designed with black ink so that you may easily copy them.

It is hoped that this program will develop within Head Start children a good feeling about themselves and an awareness of the importance of good dental health. Be sure to encourage your children to participate in the activities and discus sions. Provide them with positive reinforcement when they participate. Children learn best when they have a good self-image and are given an opportunity to actively participate in learning experiences without the threat of being wrong.

Please be sure to return the questionnaire found on the last page of this manual. Your feedback regarding this program and your ideas for other Head Start dental health education activities will be very useful in the future development of Head Start dental health education materials and programs.

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