Teachable moments: Science Experiements

At one point or another in your dental experience you have probably come across little pink “magic pills”. Maybe the dental hygienist at your school gave them to you. Or maybe your dentist did. You are supposed to chew them, and then check your teeth for discoloration. Where it’s pink, that’s where you did not brush right, or more technical, that is where a plaque disclosing tablet exposed plaque, the fertile ground for bacteria growth, on your teeth.

This is one dental experiment that has been commercialized. But how about home-made ones? Take baking soda for example. Before the rise of toothpaste, some people used to put baking soda on their toothbrush to clean their teeth. It acts as a mechanical abrasive; something that can easily be shown by using baking soda as a scrubbing agent on your pan or bath tub – which – incidentally, a lot of environmentally conscious people do anyway.

Here is one for the more stout hearted:

Use a glass jar, fill with distilled white vinegar. Submerse a raw egg completely in the vinegar jar. Tighten the lid and let stand overnight. The acid in the vinegar will dissolve the calcium shell of the egg, and show its membrane instead. This experiment is often used in life science studies to show cell composition. However, it will also show your prospective “student” what acid will do to damage the protective enamel layer, and may serve as a dire warning not to let too much time go by before brushing their teeth.

You can achieve a similar effect by immersing a boiled egg, or egg shells from boiled eggs, overnight in soda. The acid will attack the calcium the egg shell is made of, the same material our teeth are made from. What a vivid demonstration!

Have you had any teachable moments concerning dentistry or teeth with your children? If so, we would love to hear your stories.  Simply call our office at the number below.


Dr. Mead is an educator in the dental field, as well as an experienced family dentist with his practice located in Purcell, Oklahoma.
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