The Tooth Fairy Project

Connected primary schools ask parents of 9-12 year old children to collect the baby molar teeth that fall out for the Tooth Fairy project to analyse in the Australian synchrotron. The project plans a device to add many teeth at once to the robotic arm of the Australian synchrotron in the hope of finding out why some individuals do not have faults in these teeth and how to best prevent the 80% of cavities that occur in others.

Since we were children ourselves we've heard the tooth fairy fable: when a child loses a tooth they place it under their pillow and wake up to find the tooth exchanged for a prize such as a coin or dollar bill. SuperToothNDK borrows the tale but replaces the tooth fairy with The Australian Synchrotron.

The Australian Synchrotron is a light source facility which uses particle accelerators to produce a beam of high energy electrons that are boosted to nearly the speed of light and directed into a storage ring where they circulate for many hours. As the path of these electrons is deflected in the storage ring by either bending magnets or insertion devices, they emit synchrotron light. The light is channelled to experimental endstations containing specialised equipment, enabling a range of research applications including high-resolution imagery that is not possible under normal laboratory conditions.

Using the Tooth Fairy story, SuperToothNDK asks parents of primary school children to collect the baby molar back teeth that fall out from 9-12 year old children and place them in a standard size envelope with each child's first name, date of birth, and current postcode. They are used for oral health STEM projects in secondary schools and for the Australian Synchrotron where 3D X-ray tomography can measure the faults where 80% of cavities develop.