Going to the dentist for the first time can be a daunting experience.
Often, a bad early experience of a trip to the dentists can put people off visiting the dentist for the rest of their life. And there is much evidence that fear of the dentist can be passed down from parent to child – if a parent is reluctant to go to the dentist they will often be reluctant to take their kids there too.
Dr. Glafcos Tombolis, who runs London dental practice Ethicare, advises parents to ‘prepare’ their children so that they know a little about what to expect before they first visit the dentist. He said: “If children have been well prepared by their parents they should be less nervous.”
Dr. Tombolis added: “Luckily, there are lots of excellent children’s books available such as pop-up picture books describing what a dentist’s practice looks like and what goes on there. These are super for giving kids an idea of what to expect.”
Here are five of the best books around:
- Dora, Show Me Your Smile
In which Dora the Explorer goes to the dentist’s office, has her teeth cleaned and receives a special treat for being such a good patient. The book is written by Christine Ricci; not to be confused with Christina Ricci, the actress who starred as little Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family film.
- Peppa Pig: Dentist Trip
There have been many books featuring Peppa Pig doing things for the first time – camping, swimming, going on a train etc. – but none of these activities have been as nerve-wracking as her first trip to the dentist. Buy the book to see how she gets on with taking her younger brother George to the dentist for his first visit. Luckily, Mr. Dinosaur comes along too to provide a bit of moral support.
- Going to the Dentist (Usborne First Experiences)
This paperback was written by Anne Civardi and illustrated by Stephen Cartwright. It is part of a series of books about ‘first experiences’ and is aimed squarely at three and four-year-olds. The book contains over 50 ‘I found the duck’ reward stickers and tells the story of a brother and a sister (Jake and Jessie Judd) going to the dentist. The book provides a good look at the world of the dentists; including the dentist’s chair, the waiting room, injections and fillings.
- Just Going to the Dentist
“Mum took me to the dentist. She said I needed a check-up. I didn’t need a check-up; my teeth were just fine, but we went anyway.”
So begins Mercer Meyer’s picture book ‘Just Going to the Dentist’ – a picture book story in which the hero describes the dentist’s room as “looking like a spaceship”. Some of the language used in this tale might be a little too American for some tastes but it only takes three minutes to read out loud and provides a pleasantly quirky account of a practice where the nurse is a hippo and the person carrying out cavity treatment is a rabbit.
It’s suitable for four to eight-year-olds.
- My First Time: Going to the Dentist
This book, which is written by Kate Petty and Jim Pipe, is designed to support the citizenship and PSHE part of the national curriculum. More importantly, it helps young children learn about and discuss that important first experience of visiting a dentist.
The chapter titles are a good indication of the subject matter covered and include “who will go first?”, “the grey tooth”, “a quick polish”, “the X-ray” and “healthy treats”.
The pictures are reassuringly realistic in this book – there are no rabbit dentists or hippo nurses in sight!
James Christie writes for London dental practice Ethicare. Ethicare has a paediatric dentist who specialises in children’s dentistry.
The practice also provides Invisalign clear braces treatment for adults.
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