How to make a 3-D tooth model for a school project

Updated April 17, 2017

Creating a three-dimensional model of a tooth is a hands-on way of learning about anatomy. Schoolchildren can learn about the different parts of a tooth while being engaged in an arts-and-crafts project. This will likely help them to remember the function and location of these different parts. A simple but nevertheless educational project idea uses plastic foam and paint to create an informative display of a cutaway of a single tooth.

This model primarily uses one side of the plastic foam block. Designate which side that will be, and which end will be the top. If you wish, you can use a knife to shape the top of the tooth model to look more like a tooth. Alternatively, you can use paint or a permanent marker to draw in details of the top of an actual tooth.

Consult a diagram of a tooth for an idea of how a 3-D tooth model should look. Paint a "W" shape halfway down and across the face of the block using red paint. This represents the gum tissue. Paint the area underneath the gum tissue with grey paint. This represents the bone. Paint a smaller tooth shape using orange paint in the area directly about the gum tissue. This represents the dentine. Leave the rest of the foam white to represent the enamel.

Allow the paint to dry. After that, paint a smaller tooth shape within the orange dentine area using red paint. This will represent the pulp chamber. Once that paint dries, use your permanent markers to draw in lines representing nerves and blood vessels. These will be in the red pulp chamber, and the lines should lead out of the bottom of the tooth. Use one of your permanent markers to trace the line between the gum tissue and dentine. This represents the cementum.

Make labels for all of the different elements of your 3-D tooth model. The specificity of what should be labelled may differ depending on the school grade level, so check if there is a list of criteria. Affix the labels using pins, tape or glue.

Things You'll Need

  • Block of white craft plastic foam
  • Red craft paint
  • Orange craft paint
  • Gray craft paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Permanent markers, 2 colours
  • Paper labels
  • Knife
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About the Author

Sarah Clark has been writing since 1997, with work appearing in Northern Arizona University's "Student Life Organization Newsletter." She holds a B.A. in anthropology with a minor in art history from Northern Arizona University.