Good Clean (Teeth) Fun

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking a Bite out of Anxiety

It’s no surprise that dental visits don’t top the list of fun summer activities for most kids, and B is often anxious and wary of unfamiliar experiences, so I started my preparation for the dentist’s office weeks in advance. I requested a few books from the library featuring friendly dentists, and I tried to add tooth exams to the routine when the doctor play-set was out. Both helped B feel more prepared and even brought some laughs to the experience.

Who’s the Patient Here?

We don’t have battles over oral hygiene with B; in fact, he’s quite particular about his routine. We brush in the morning when we get dressed and again after bath time. The before bed routine also includes floss and fluoride rinse, both of which he happily complies with. However, coming at him with shiny, noisy, and possibly sharp tools is quite another story. On his first visit to the dentist he was very cooperative about letting her “count” his teeth with a gloved hand. But when the tools came out at a later visit, all he was willing to share was a tight-lipped frown and a vigorously shaking head. This time I was determined it would be different. When I came across a doctor’s mask dress up accessory at Michael’s craft store in the dollar bin, I snatched it up. My theory: donning the mask and doing some exams of his own might make it less intimidating when B was in the chair.

Brushing Up on Dental Terminology

Of the dentist-themed books I checked out from the library, A Trip to the Dentist, by Margot Linn, was the stand-out favorite for both B and me. We also checked out Harry and the Dinosaurs Say “Rahh!” and Vera Goes to the Dentist. My complaint with the other two is that while all works out ok in the end, both introduce the concept of being fearful of the dentist and then show why the fear was unnecessary. Harry conquers his fear by imagining that his dinosaurs come to life and scare the dentist, Vera initially runs away from the dentist, who has to chase her down and convince her to return. I’d rather avoid the fear to begin with. A Trip to the Dentist introduces readers to the dentist’s chair, staff, and tools with a silly guessing game and flaps to reveal the answers. You can imagine the giggles that arise when you ask what the dentist will use to polish Annie’s teeth and the choices include a sponge, a bucket and mop, and a dust cloth along with the tooth polisher. The illustrations are simple pencil and pastel drawings, and make the tools and experience friendly and welcoming. Linn also wrote A Trip to the Doctor, and we may be picking that one up too!
Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers

Linking up with:

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Tackle it Tuesday
What My Child is Reading this Week


Raising a Happy Child July 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

Thanks for joining WMCIR! I admit that we've been lax with tooth hygiene - Anna is yet to see a dentist. I also admit that I think that flossing and fluoride is American fashion and us, Europeans, manage to have decent teeth by eating less candy. But we also enjoyed many good dentist books already. I liked the one from Usborne First Experiences series best, especially because it doesn't mention flossing :)

Ginny Marie July 27, 2010 at 8:14 PM  

What a coincidence that you posted this today! I took both my daughters to the dentist this afternoon. My almost 3 yo and I watched as my 5 yo went first, and I described each step of the way to Emmy. This helped her anxiety a lot, and by the time it was her turn in the dentist's chair, she was fine! (She did have a tight grip on my finger the whole time, though!:)

amandab July 30, 2010 at 1:20 AM  

I am yet to take Princess to the dentist, and have to admit to being slack about it for myself since meeting my husband who is not comfortable with them. The idea of the dentist doesn't seem to bother her, even after my sister and myself had some terrible experiences with infected wisdom teeth needing to be extracted this year :(

Hope everything went well with your visit :)

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