Food Education lesson – Dental Health Promotion

Food and health lessons offer many opportunities to discuss the links between the impact of food and eating habits on mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual health. As food teachers we educate pupils on the impact of diet on dental health including the benefits of a balanced diet which includes calcium, the benefits of reducing sugar and sticking to one glass of fruit juice a day and how food related substances can stain teeth. We also discuss why the fortification of food is important to the health of the nation.

In these lessons we often watch clips from embarrassing bodies of terrible tooth decay and we discuss how cases like these can be prevented. We show Jamie Oliver’s clip from Sugar Rush of six-year-old Mario having six teeth removed. Some pupils find this difficult to watch but it is important that they are aware of the reality of the situation of tooth decay in young children. We spend a lot of time looking at current research findings in terms of dental health such as the NHS statistics and we often discuss and debate headlines from research or news articles such as the one below  :

“The 2013 Children’s Dental Health Survey for England, Wales and Northern Ireland also found that 46% of 15-year-olds had decay in their teeth. Nearly half of eight-year-olds and a third of five-year-olds have signs of decay in their milk teeth.”

We raise awareness of national dental health campaigns such as National Smile Week. We encourage pupils to reflect on how their eating or drinking habits affect their dental health.

We do this because education about health and nutrition matters.

Below is a lesson plan I use with pupils ranging from ages 14 – 18. Feel free to adapt for use in your lessons to promote positive dental health in young people.

Lesson Plan                      Food Technology  (55 minute lesson)                          


·         To understand the term dental health

·         To distinguish between eating/lifestyle habits which may have a positive or negative impact on dental health

·         To reflect on your own personal eating habits and the impact of these habits on your own dental health

( 2 mins)


Pupils watch two video clips

Clip 1 – Embarrassing bodies – extreme decay and dental phobia

Clip 2 – Jamie Oliver Sugar Rush Mario having teeth removed

  • Pupils will have a range of questions to answer ( see booklet)
  • Feedback from pupils and brief discussion about the impact of food on dental health (12 mins)

·         Teacher to read through and explain main definitions/facts associated with dental health.(powerPoint)

(5 mins)

·         Teacher explains the role of sugar in dental decay( 5 mins)

Use notice board on the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks as a visual aid to discussion.

·         Pupils will be questioned at interval to check understanding.

·         Introduction to group activity. Pupils asked to complete group activity in

Seating plan (Pupils grouped according to recent grades and personalities – mixed ability to support group learning and development )

  • Pupils to be given notes or articles on dental health facts and asked to work in groups to discuss the following questions.

Why is dental health a concern in the UK?

List three facts about dental health in Britain.

Give five dietary tips that people can follow to look after their dental health. ( 20 mins)

·         Discussion and feedback on group activity

·         Teacher to explain foods associated with positive and negative effects on dental health to ensure that pupils are             clear ( 6 mins)

  • Pupils to complete plenary activity (10 mins) – see below

Lower and higher order questions to groups and individuals will reinforce learning throughout

the lesson. Some higher order questions will be targeted at more able or G & T pupils.

Examples of questions to ask include:

Low Order    What kind of food products are high in sugar?

Middle Order Why do you think people sometimes choose foods high in sugar over foods low in sugar? How does eating food high in calcium influence dental health?

Higher Order

Why do you think some people eat a lot of sugary foods even when they know they have a negative impact on their dental health? Why do you think people sometimes crave high sugar foods when they are under stress?

Outside the Box question

How does having dental health issues affect a teenager?

What would happen to young people’s teeth if dental care was not available on the NHS?


  • Pupils to finish the following sentences which are closely linked to the objectives of the lesson
  • I believe that my dental health is poor, good, excellent or could be better. Please explain.
  • Upon reflection I could do the following to improve my own dental health ……………
  • ( 5 mins)

Extension Activities

  • Pupils can choose a choice of one of the  extension activities below:

Imagine you are a teenager writing a food blog on teenager’s health.

Write a blog on the topic “the importance of good dental health in teenage years”.

Create an advertisement encouraging young people to look after their dental health.

Write a report on the sugar tax debate and how it influences dental health.

 Assessment for Learning

  • Completion of individual work.
  • Observation of participation and feedback using traffic lights in planners

( Red = No, Green = Yes, Yellow =Unsure)

  • Use of randomiser on iPad for questioning.
  • Plenary worksheet
 Differentiation/ extension incl. difficulties

  • Use of multi sensory and varied activities to suit a range of learners.
  • Use of independent, group and teacher lead learning
  • Use of differentiated questioning.
  • Peer support in table based activities. May be personality clashes – encourage effective participators.
  • Questions provided to aid reflection activity for those who may need it.
  • Choice of extension activities given.
 Cross-curricular elements

  • Literacy coverage on key words and explanation, reading and writing activity and oral descriptions.
  • PSHE – developing social skills through discussion and presentation of ideas, the effects of adequate nutrition on both physical and mental health
  • Effective Participators, Independent Learners.

  • IPad for register and for using randomiser
  • Power point
  • Booklet


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