What eggsactly is good for your teeth?

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Biology In Elementary Schools is a Saint Michael's College student project from a course that ran between 2007 and 2010 and fully described in this book chapter. The student-created resources have been preserved here for posterity. Link under 'toolbox' for printer-friendly versions of the exercises. Click on handouts to print full resolution versions. Please see Wikieducator's disclaimer, our safety statement, and the Creative Commons licensing in English and in legalese.

What eggsactly is good for your teeth?

Student worthiness

This experiment has been tried with success.

Primary biological content area covered

In this experiment students will learn about the sugar content in foods and the detrimental effects sugar can have on teeth, as well as the importance of dental care.



  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles

Part 1: Hidden Sugars

  • 1 500 ml beaker
  • 5 25 ml test tubes
  • 1 pair of tongs
  • 1 eye dropper
  • 1 bottle of Benedict's Solution
  • 1 hot plate
  • 5 varying food samples (ex. cookie, fruit, bread, etc.)

Part 2: Strengthening Teeth

  • 4 Mason jars or other jars
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 32 oz. bottle of White Vinegar
  • 1 bottle of Fluoride Mouth Rinse


Description of activity

This experiment comes in two parts. In the first experiment, Hidden Sugars students will learn which foods have significant quantities of sugar and which foods have "hidden sugar" that the students never knew about before. The emphasis of this experiment will be placed on moderation of these sugary foods. Then in Strengthening Teeth students will see the impact that fluoride has on teeth by comparing the differences between hard-boiled eggs soaked in fluoride mouthwash and then placed in vinegar and an egg just simply soaked in vinegar. This experiment emphasizes the importance of proper dental care. Overall both experiments are based on maintaining a healthy body and giving students a chance to become more familiar with the scientific method; hypothesizing, observing and drawing conclusions.

Lesson plan

Part 1: Hidden Sugars

1.Hand out safety goggles

  • Even though students will not be touching the Benedict's Solution they will still have to wear the goggles while it is being used. Benedict's Solution is made up of very stable chemical and has a very low risk of reaction, but it is always better to be safe. As with all chemicals, please consult with the Material Safety Data Sheet before handling.

2.Fill 500 ml beaker with 300 ml of water

3.Plug in Hot Plate

  • The Hot Plate needs to be hot enough to bring the water to a constant simmer.

4.Place filled beaker onto hot plate

  • (Idea: If you have limited time and would like to do both labs with in one time period, consider starting Part 2 while waiting for the water to come to a boil.)

5.Lay out the various food samples

  • Once the water is boiling ask the students to predict which foods contain sugars and which do not. Have them fill out the table that can be printed out from our Handouts section (Handout 1).

6.Place food samples in test tubes

  • This can be done by the teacher or one student can be called up per food sample to put the food in. Put just enough of a sample in to fill the bottom of the test tube. Do Not squish the sample into the bottom of the test tube.

7.Pour Benedict's Solution into the test tube

  • When working with small children the teacher must do this part. It is recommended that rubber gloves are worn. Using the medicine/eye dropper, pour enough solution into each test tube in order to completely submerse the sample.

8.Place test tubes into boiling water

  • When using glass test tubes it is alright it the test tubes to touch the bottom/sides of the beaker. Place the test tubes in and allow the Benedict's Solution to heat up. The end result should be that the Benedict's Solution changes from blue to orange if the food contains sugar.

9.Record your findings

  • After seeing the end results ask the students to write in the chart if there predictions were correct. Encourage students that science is not always about being right but being able to "approach the truth." Can be used as a segway into talking about the Scientific Method.
  • Note: If you are doing the Strengthening Teeth experiment after completing this one, be sure to have students make predictions about what they think is going to happen to Egg #1 and Egg #2. There are premade handouts available in the Handouts section (Handout 2).
Part 2: Strengthening Teeth

Before Class

1.Twenty-four hours before class prepare 2 mason jars with one hard boiled egg in each jar. Then, fill one jar with Fluoride Solution and one with White Vinegar. Be sure to cover as much of the egg as possible.

  • This step is important. If you want more extreme results, set up this part a week in advance. The egg in the vinegar will become rubber-like and squishy whereas the egg in the fluoride will have a hard shell. Do not remove the eggs from their jars until you have done the rest of the experiment.

During Class

1.Prepare one mason jar with one egg and Fluoride

  • Place the egg in the mason jar labeled #1 and fill with Fluoride just like in the Before Class section. This will be known as Egg #1. If you don't have enough mason jars don't worry, if you use a plastic cup for this step it will still have the same effect.

2.Prepare second mason jar with White Vinegar

  • Fill this mason jar with enough White Vinegar to cover 2 eggs. DO NOT put an egg in this mason jar. For best effect Egg #1 should sit in the solution for at least 15 minutes.

3.Leave the last egg out next to the mason jar

  • This will be known as Egg #2.
  • Note: If you want to do both experiments in the same day do Steps 1 and 2 of this experiment while the water from part 1 is boiling. If you have done this and the water is still not boiling yet, have the students make predictions about what will happen to the eggs in the different solutions. Please see the Strengthening Teeth page in the Handouts section for a premade hand out. Once the water is boiling, go back to Part 1 and start on Step 5.

4.Remove the egg from the Fluoride Solution after at least 15 minutes

  • If you would like, use a permanent marker and make a line on this egg so students will be able to tell the difference between the eggs when they are both put into the vinegar.

5.Place Egg #1 and Egg #2 in the mason jar with white vinegar

  • You can either do this yourself or have 2 students help.

6.Have students record what is happening

  • Have students come near the jar because the effect is extremely hard to see from far away. You could pass the jar around but sometimes the effect wears off quickly.
  • Note: What you will be watching is the difference in the number of bubbles that appear on each egg. The acid in the vinegar eats away at Egg #2 much more quickly than Egg #1. Have students finish the hand out with what actually happened and go over with them why it happened.

7.Bring out pre-prepared eggs

  • Show them the pre-prepared eggs and explain the long term results of not brushing your teeth. This can be segwayed into proper dental care as well as talking about the scientific method. If you would like a handout about keeping a healthy mouth, please take a look at page http://www.edhelper.com/clipart/teachers/org-teethcarelabeled.pdf Taking Care Of Teeth in the Handouts section.

Pictures of the Experiment

Potential pitfalls

  • Make sure that the Benedict's Solution has not expired so that we can tell which foods have sugar
  • Be sure to use eggs that are not cracked. The experiment will not have the same effect if they are.
  • This experiment is also rather time consuming so one should make sure that they have the materials ready ahead of time and that they have enough time in their lesson to show all aspects of the experiment.

Literary References

There are many books containing material on correct dental hygiene. Here are some recommended books to read to children in conjunction with the teeth experiment we have previously explained.

  • McGuire, Leslie, April 1993,Brush Your Teeth Please, Reader's Digest Children's Publishing, Inc.
  • Berenstain, Stan and Berenstain, Jan,October 12, 1981,The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, Random House Books for Young Readers.
  • Dr. Seuss,September 26, 2000,The Tooth Book, Random House Books for Young Readers.
  • Palatini, Margie, August 10, 2004, Sweet Tooth, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
  • Katz Bobbie, March 2002,Make Way for Tooth Decay,Scholastic, Inc.

http://wikieducator.org/Literacy_Activity_XXXX Literacy Activity

Connections to educational standards

According to the http://education.vermont.gov/ Vermont Department of Education's Programs and Services link for http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/pubs/framework.html Curriculum Standards this experiment can be used to help fulfill:

  • Health Nutrition and Physical Activity section for Grades PreK-2 and 3-4.
  • Core Concept Areas Nutrition and Physical Activity and Personal Health and Wellness sections for different grade clusters.

This experiment is also useful for introducing the scientific method. At one point or another every student needs to learn about the scientific method, and with out handouts we have tried to make them as fun and easy to understand as possible.

Next steps

What can you do now that the experiment is over? Well, here are a few suggestions of relevant connections to the experiment!

Health Connections

For younger students (PreK-2)a great health concept to connect to the experiment is moderation. Talk to students about how eating too much sugar can make their teeth and their entire body unhealthy. Some fun things to go along with this would be creating a poster of healthy snacks and a poster of unhealthy snacks together and hang them up on the classroom walls. Creating a list of foods that should be limited is a great idea as well. And of course, one other connection to make, especially with young children is the importance of brushing your teeth and keeping a healthy mouth. Under our Handouts section, the link 4 Steps to a Healthy Mouth is a great visual representation from [www.edhelper.com] made to remind students about how to keep a healthy mouth.

For older students (3-4) this experiment can be used to connect eating foods in healthy proportions by using MyPyramid. A link to a MyPyramid handout can be found in the Handouts section. This can also be tied into how students can maintain or improve their personal health through what they eat and how much they exercise. In fact, a great in-class activity could be to have every student write down one thing they could do, a "goal", to try to live a healthier lifestyle. There is also a Tooth Anatomy page from [www.edhelper.com] in the Handouts section that may be useful for students of this age. After removing the egg that was sitting in the vinegar over night, you can use it to model the different parts of a tooth. For example the shell of the egg would be related to the enamel, the egg white is the dentin and the yolk is the pulp, and show how acids and sugar eat away at the enamel of our teeth if they are not properly taken care of. Even at this age it is still good to enforce healthy hygiene habits.

Math Connections

After collecting everyone's Hidden Sugars worksheet, pick one type of food and count how many students believed it had sugar and how many students believed it did not have sugar. With these data, have the students make a simple bar graph with the Title being "Sugar in Apples" or something similar, have the y-axis with the total number of students in the class, and two bar options on the x-axis, either "yes" or "no" and then have the students color in the number of students who said "yes" and the number of students who said "no".

For older students you can work on percentages by taking the same data and figuring out what percent of students thought there was going to be sugar in a certain piece of food or what percent of students didn't think there was going to be sugar. You could also touch on fractions while doing this as well.

Science Connections

This experiment can also be used to segway into talking about the scientific method. Make a poster to hang in the classroom, or write out on the board the different steps of the scientific method and talk about how they were used in this experiment. You can also talk about whether their predictions were right or not and being sure to make the point that science is not about being right or wrong but about learning.

Citations and links


  • I LOVED this experiment. I thought the whole concept is an incredible way to show students why it's important to take care of our teeth. It was a great transformation that occurs right in front of their eyes!
  • I thought the experiment was a great way for students to see the effects that sugars can have on teeth. To ensure a successful demonstration, you need to plan ahead so that the eggs are ready for the students to handle. You should also make sure that you have foods that contain sugar and foods that do not, so that the students can clearly see the color differences between the two.
  • It was a really interesting experiment to do, but because we were working with a chemical we didn't let the kids handle it and I think they might have been a little bored at first. However, they LOVED seeing the chemical change color. I also think another favorite part was having an egg that was soaking in vinegar for two weeks. Even though the egg smelled a little bit, the kids loved touching it and seeing the difference between the egg that sat in the vinegar and the egg that sat in the fluoride. From this experiment they really could see why it is important to brush your teeth.
  • Also, we found that it was important to include the kids although they could not come near the chemicals by asking them what food we should test next and what they thought would happen. Asking engaging questions is a great way to keep the kids interested and involved. It was also a great experiment because they had some familiarity with brushing their teeth so their reactions were priceless when they realized that like the egg if you don't protect your teeth they will rot.
Must Do
  • Make sure you have enough time for the experiment/set it up before hand.

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