A visit to the dentist in the early years of life is — no surprise — an anxious, even traumatic, experience for young children. After all, they sit in an oversized chair with a tray of menacing instruments nearby and must trust a person who they just meet, or see rarely, with a very sensitive area of the body. In some cases, this manifests in quiet unease; in others, hysteria. Yet much of this dread is avoidable if the right emotional preparation comes first. Several children’s authors make their contribution to the effort with these five books about the dentist.
1. The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
This book was first published in 2003. Using various animal species to illustrate how our mouths are used for talking, eating, and a host of other functions, this volume explores why we have teeth; how they operate in our mouths; and, most importantly, why we need to take care of them. Illustrated by Joe Mathieu, The Tooth Book utilizes familiar Seussian rhymes and rhythms to convey the message.
2. The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Since 1981, this book employs a bear family — part of a beloved franchise in children’s literature — to take the fear out of the dental appointment. A central component of the Berenstain Bears story is a survey of dental instruments in which the bears show how they work and what their benefits are. The Tooth Fairy makes a cameo appearance, as well.
3. Sugarbug Doug: All About Cavities, Plaque, and Teeth by Dr. Ben Magleby
Here is a children’s book written by a dentist who treats kids and gives talks at their schools, too. Sugarbug Doug encourages children by stressing the need to protect teeth against all the agents that cause decay. By teaching kids about what causes dental diseases — e.g. sugar — Dr. Magleby instills in them a sense of urgency about maintenance and check-ups.
4. Ready, Set, Brush!: A Pop-Up Book by Che Rudko
Ready, Set, Brush! is a 2008 publication that features the cast of Sesame Street. In addition to brushing, flossing, and rinsing, regular visits to the dentist are emphasized to keep a mouth that is healthy and clean. The pop-up format, complete with wheels that turn and flaps that open, highlights the interactive nature of the book and confirms its lessons to young readers.
5. Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi — Illustrated by Stephen Cartwright
This book is part of the Usborne First Experiences series. It is the story of siblings who visit the dentist for regular examinations and, for one, a needed filling. The lesson here is that conscientious preventive care can make fillings less likely. Going to the Dentist tells kids thatregular dental check-ups help to prevent pain and reduce the number of visits overall.
Using books to introduce children to the idea of a dentist and why you shouldn’t be afraid is a wonderful idea. CHildren will be able to develop their literacy skills while easing their fear of the dentist.